An own goal by Syracuse in the 87th minute gave the No. 19-ranked West Virginia University women's soccer team a 2-1 win today, in the Penn State Invitational at Jeffrey Field.
Despite giving up a one-goal lead in the second half, the Mountaineers (1-0-1) walked away with their first victory of 2013 after a Syracuse defender knocked in a deflection past goalkeeper Brittany Anghel. WVU senior forward Frances Silva sent the cross toward the net.
"Where we want to go, we need to figure out how to win on Sunday after a hard-fought, emotional game on Friday," says 18th-year coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. "Give Syracuse credit – they did everything to disrupt us. I think it was great we were able to find the back of the net and walk out with a win.
"We opened up with two tough teams, and this was an eye-opening weekend. There are a lot of lessons to be had, but I'm glad we'll be able to get better for next Friday."
The Mountaineers outshot the Orange (1-1) 10-9, and SU earned a 6-5 advantage in corner kicks. Mountaineer senior goalie Sara Keane came up with four saves, while Anghel totaled five.
"I think we had good leadership in the back," says Izzo-Brown, now one win short of 250 for her career. "The one time we did let Syracuse behind us, they were able to finish. What's important is we need to be a bit more disciplined for 90 minutes."
WVU gave up its second lead of the weekend in the second half. Up 1-0 10 minutes in, the Orange negated the Mountaineers' advantage in the 57th minute, as defender Jackie Moriarty played a through ball to Erin Simon to the top of the 18. Keane came out to meet Simon but was unable to block the ball low, giving the Orange a clear look at the net.
The goal gave the Orange temporary momentum, but Keane negated the offensive pressure, picking up two big saves in the span of two minutes. First, the Mt. Laurel, N.J., native handled an Orange breakaway, using both hands to bat a dead-on shot from Stephanie Skilton up over the crossbar. Less than 60 seconds later, in the 65th minute, Keane gobbled up a shot from Rachel Blum, set up by an Orange corner.
The Mountaineers returned the pressure within the final 15 of regulation. The team first had a chance for its second goal in the 82nd minute. Silva served a corner, which found senior midfielder Kara Blosser's head in the far corner of the box. She directed the ball toward sophomore defender Cari Price, but her attempt went right of the post.
WVU wasted little time getting on the board today. Buzzing around the net since the opening kick, WVU finally cashed in, as Silva chased down a ball deep in the right corner and sent a low cross to junior forward Kate Schwindel. The Livingston, N.J., native put the ball past Anghel, the 2012 Big East Goalie of the Year, for her first points of the season. The goal was the 16th career for Schwindel.
Blosser had a chance to make it 2-0 soon after, but Anghel met her at the top of the 18 and stuffed her shot.
Sophomore forward Kelsie Maloney was inches from her second goal of the Invitational in the 34th minute, as she beat an SU defender and snuck behind Anghel, who came up to the top of the 18. Maloney took a shot at an empty net, but the play was ruled dead by an offside.
SU's best chance in the first half came in the 17th minute off a corner kick, the first of the game. The Orange played the ball up top, where sophomore midfielder Jackie Firenze lofted a high shot, and Keane met it in the air.
With today's win, WVU improves to 9-3-2 against former Big East opponent Syracuse.
The Mountaineers open their 2013 home season against Central Michigan next Friday, Aug. 30, at 5 p.m., at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. It's a poster night, and all fans will be able to take home a free 2013 WVU women's soccer schedule poster.