MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia women’s soccer team tuned up for Big 12 Conference play with two morale-boosting results over the weekend – a dominating 2-0 win over Atlantic 10 opponents Richmond followed by a 4-1 thrashing of Wright State.
Trips to Oklahoma State and Baylor lie ahead this weekend as the Mountaineers begin the defense of their Big 12 regular-season title. A spate of injuries have hampered WVU’s early season preparations, but the brand of soccer that head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown seeks to stamp on her team has resurfaced after a 4-2 loss against Kentucky on Sept. 15.
“Turnovers killed us last weekend,” Izzo-Brown told The Soccer Observer after Friday’s game. “We gave Kentucky three goals.
“That’s something we can’t do at this level for us to be nationally ranked and to win championships.”
West Virginia displayed far greater patience, poise and purpose in possession in outshooting Richmond by 10-0 during a scoreless first half last Friday than they had shown against the Wildcats. Their ball movement was much sharper and they closed the door on any half-chances that Richmond created.
Kadeisha Buchanan produced another distinguished display belying her freshman status. The Canadian national team defender was called into action 12 minutes after the interval when the referee’s close presence caused a slip by holding midfielder Amanda Hill at the edge of WVU’s penalty box.
Richmond’s Kaleigh Kurtz seized on the loose ball, stepped inside Carly Black and approached the corner of the six-yard box. Buchanan hurtled into a thunderous last-ditch tackle that whisked the ball out for a corner kick and left her opponent crumpled on the field.
Kurtz received hearty applause from the 937 crowd at Dick Dlesk Stadium after gingerly getting back to her feet to resume play.
Sophomore Kelsie Maloney rewarded West Virginia’s authority with the opening goal five minutes later. The 5-foot-2-inch winger typically beavers away down the left wing while fellow forwards Silva and Kate Schwindel grab most of the team’s goals. Maloney attacked the penalty spot on this occasion after right-back Jess Crowder intercepted the ball and slipped Silva clear on the right.
Silva cut inside and outside of Richmond’s covering defender before crossing for Maloney to nod past goalkeeper Emily Kelly.
“Kelsie is a super-athletic soccer player,” Izzo-Brown said. “What she’s doing now is getting a little bit more refined around the 18, understanding the runs and the timing.”
Freshman midfielder Ashley Lawrence, Canada’s U-17 Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012, is another attack-minded player benefiting from extending her forward runs into the box. The Toronto native sealed West Virginia’s win over Richmond with a thumping 25-yard drive into the top-left corner after surging into the final third.
Silva led the forward line’s productivity Sunday against Wright State. She set up Schwindel’s sixth goal of the season and swung in two corner kicks that led to Black and Hill finding the net before completing the rout with her sixth goal of the campaign.
The physical toughness, mental focus and tactical adventure that define Izzo-Brown’s “West Virginia Soccer” have resurfaced at the right time.
Sept. 21, 2013 — SLIDESHOW: West Virginia Women 2 Richmond 0
Sept. 16, 2013 — Kentucky Loss Leaves West Virginia Women With The Blues
Sept. 15, 2013 — SLIDESHOW: West Virginia Women 2 Kentucky 4