MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia, the reigning Big XII Conference regular-season champions, made an impressive start to the college season Tuesday with a 3-0 win over Rutgers at Dick Dlesk Stadium.
Senior Frances Silva led the attack, carving open the visitors’ defense with two perfectly weighted passes to tee up freshmen Bryce Banuelos and Tessa Broadwater for first-half goals before providing the cross for Kara Blosser to complete the scoring.
Defensive issues plagued the Mountaineers during the first month of last season. A new-look back line of Jess Crowder and Leah Emaus at full-backs with Carly Black and Kadeisha Buchanan in the center looked solid in snuffing out Olympic bronze medal winner Jonelle Filigno and her teammates.
“We’ve just got a bond off the field,” said Buchanan, the 17-year-old Canadian national team defender who only arrived in Morgantown on August 3. The Brampton, Ontario native took advice from fellow Toronto area product Bry McCarthy ahead of her arrival in West Virginia.
“I’ve slept over at Leah’s house and I hung out with Carly on my official visit,” Buchanan told The Soccer Observer.
“We’ve had meals, cooked dinner and we’ve been getting to know each other so we’re connected on the field and off the field.”
McCarthy was allocated to the Western New York Flash after a senior year that saw her awarded Big XII Defender of the Year honors with WVU. Her absence takes away a potent attacking weapon that Mountaineers head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown is still unsure how to replace.
“You always saw us coming out of the left,” Izzo-Brown told The Soccer Observer. “We’ll just have a little bit more balance this year between Crowder and Emaus.”
Silva created the opening goal on 29 minutes after collecting the ball on the halfway line and spinning away from her marker. She advanced toward the Rutgers’ penalty area, tempting the visitors’ defense toward her, before slotting Banuelos clear on the right of the box. The debutant steadied herself before finding the far bottom corner.
West Virginia doubled the lead with a similar move on 36 minutes. This time Silva slipped in Broadwater on the right side, and she buried an unerring low drive beyond the Scarlet Knights goalkeeper Jessica Janosz.
Blosser nodded the third goal on the hour mark from a pinpoint Silva cross. WVU goalkeeper Sara Keane maintained the shutout three minutes later with an excellent save low to her right to keep out Allison Ryan’s effort.
One major concern for the hosts is the fitness of central striker Kate Schwindel. The junior from Livingston, N.J. took an ankle knock after seven minutes and played no further part in the game.
Oct. 18, 2012 — WVU’s Silva Making Headlines On And Off The Field
Sept. 7, 2012 — Keane Saves WVU After Forwards Fail To Finish Duquesne