The No. 1 West Virginia University women’s soccer team placed six players on Preseason All-Big 12 Team. This number sets a new high of players selected to the conference’s preseason team.
Senior All-American forward, and Hermann Award watch list member, Michaela Abam was the only unanimous selection. She scored the goal that downed UNC in the national semifinal and sent WVU to the title game last December.
Proving the depth head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown has built, the other five members of the Preseason All-Big 12 Team include two seniors, midfielder Carla Portillo and defender Amandine Pierre-Louis, juniors Bianca St. Georges (midfield) and Sh’Nia Gordon (forward) and sophomore goalkeeper Rylee Foster.
In 2016, St. Georges and Foster missed the Big 12 tournament while playing for Canada in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.
The Mountaineers are coming off their most successful season in program history, falling short in the Women’s College Cup final 3-1 to USC. Although Izzo-Brown lost MAC Hermann Award winner Kadeisha Buchanan and Canadian international Ashley Lawrence, the six players on this preseason all-conference team contributed in big ways.
Abam led the conference in points (33) and goals (12) while Gordon and Portillo combined to add 12 goals and 10 assists. St. Georges and Pierre-Louis will have to replace Buchanan on the backline, but Foster will return after posting a 0.42 goals-against average in her 17 games in 2016.
The other Preseason All-Big 12 Team members are:
- Julie James, junior midfielder, Baylor
- Paige Welch, senior defender, Oklahoma
- Emma Heckendon, senior forward, TCU
- Jordie Harr, sophomore midfielder, Texas Tech
- Cyera Hintzen, sophomore forward, Texas
WVU opens the 2017 regular season on Friday, August 18, at 4 p.m., at Georgetown. They will debut at home on Thursday, August 24, at 7 p.m., against Virginia.