The West Virginia women’s soccer team made a grand statement in its first appearance in the Women’s College Cup, defeating superpower North Carolina 1-0 in the NCAA semifinal match. With the win, the Mountaineers will play for a national championship on Sunday.
A lightning bolt from Michaela Abam broke the deadlock in the 74th minute. Heather Kaleohi was fouled deep in the corner, which resulted in what was basically a corner kick for the Mountaineers. The kick was sent back post, where it bobbled to Abam. She cooly cut the ball back to her left foot and found an unbelieveable angle to pound the ball past Lindsey Harris.
The No. 1-seeded Mountaineers (23-1-2) outshot the No. 2-seeded Tar Heels (17-4-4) 13-8 in the match. Many of those UNC shots came after WVU took the lead. Rylee Foster did not have to make a save the entire match.
After a timid start to the match, the Mountaineers were able to find space on the wings. UNC looked to counter for most of the first half, but WVU did a decent job stymying those attacks with the back four. WVU surrendered no shots in the first half of play, but the Mountaineers were unable to capitalize on the possession they created.
The highlight of the first half was actually a negative for WVU. Kadeisha Buchanan was deemed to foul a UNC attacker with a slide tackle from behind and was given a yellow card in the sixth minute.
Despite a scoreless first half, WVU looked comfortable against their formidable opponent.
The second half started with a lot of pressure by UNC, who won the first corner kick of match goes in the 48th minute. Bianca St. Georges was taken out early in the second half with a sprained ankle. Ashley Lawrence played at right back for the remainder of the match.
From that point, WVU started to crank up the pressure on UNC. In the 53rd minute, Healther Kaleohi was able to find space behind the Tar Heel defense, but her shot was high.
WVU continued to find space wide and work inside against eh UNC defense. Lawrence utilized that space to send crosses in, but Abam and company were unable to muster enough power.
Finally, WVU broke through in the 74th minute. After winning a free kick deep in the corner, WVU crossed the ball back post. The ball settled for Abam who rocketed the ball high to near post with her left foot by Harris.
After West Virginia scored, the Tar Heels heated on the pressure on the Mountaineer back line. Bridgette Andrzejewski misses a shot from the six-yard box in the 77th minute. Two minuites later, Madison Schultz missed another sitter.
From there, WVU was able to regain composure and kill of the match.
WVU will now play USC in the Women’s College Cup final on Sunday at 6 p.m., on ESPNU.