No. 1 WVU Advances to Elite Eight - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

No. 1 WVU Advances to Elite Eight

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Per WVU Communications: For the second straight match, the No. 1-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team needed extra time to advance in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Again, the Mountaineers found a way to survive, as WVU edged No. 18-ranked UCLA, 4-2, in penalty kicks, late this afternoon at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium and earned the right to advance to the 2016 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals.
Playing in swirling winds and icy, blustery conditions, the top-seeded Mountaineers (21-1-2, 8-0) pounced on the fourth-seeded Bruins (15-5-2, 7-3-1 Pac-12) in the 23rd minute, on a goal from sophomore forward Sh’Nia Gordon. UCLA earned the late equalizer on a header from freshman forward Jessie Flemming with 1:52 remaining.
The contest officially goes down as a 1-1 draw, halting WVU’s program-best win streak at 14, but extending the team’s unbeaten streak to 15.
“Exciting, exciting game today,” Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “This team never ceases to surprise me. They have prevailed through so many different adversities and situations, and this was just another one where this team showed its grit, its grind and its focus.
“All the credit to UCLA, that was an incredible team. That was a tough opponent, and it was an incredible, incredible result.”
WVU advances to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight for the second straight season and the third time in program history. The Mountaineers will play host to No. 14-ranked and third-seeded Duke on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 3 p.m., at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. It will be the first NCAA quarterfinal match in Morgantown since 2007.
Tickets for Saturday’s quarterfinal go on sale Monday, Nov. 21, at 9 a.m., at WVUGAME.com.
Despite out-possessing the Bruins throughout both overtime periods, earning 10 shots to UCLA’s one, WVU saw its postseason life hang in the balance when the match went into a shootout.
WVU won the toss and went first. Junior midfielder Carla Portillo placed her shot past junior Siri Ervik, who entered the match for the shootout. UCLA’s Lauren Kaskie matched and put the mark at 1-1.
Ervik stopped junior forward Michaela Abam on the second shot, and Mountaineer junior Michelle Newhouse answered, making a save on Flemming’s attempt. Senior midfielder Ashley Lawrence connected on WVU’s third shot, and Newhouse made a second straight save, pushing away Courtney Proctor’s attempt.
Junior defender Amandine Pierre-Louis pushed WVU’s edge to 3-1 with make in the fourth round. Sunny Dunphy answered for the Bruins. Senior defender Kadeisha Buchanan punched the Mountaineers’ quarterfinal ticket with a make in the fifth round.
“We’ve been here before,” Newhouse said of the Mountaineers’ shootout experience. “A couple years back in the Big 12 Tournament, we came out with the same outcome. We were pretty confident; we practice all the time. I told them (her teammates), ‘they have to make theirs, and I’ll come up with a few,’ and that’s what happened.”
WVU finished with a 25-6 edge in shots and forced UCLA’s Teagan Micah into nine saves, including four in the overtime periods. Newhouse made two stops, both in the second half.
The Mountaineers also finished with a 5-4 edge in corner kicks.
Though the teams needed time to settle into the wintry conditions, WVU capitalized on its first quality chance. The hero just two days ago, Abam got the play started, sending in a shot wide of the 18-yard box in the 23rd minute. Micah got a hand on the ball at the upper right corner and tipped it behind her body. It floated across the line and landed at the feet of Gordon, who promptly directed it into the net for her seventh goal of the season.
“It was huge; again it was just one more opportunity and more momentum that we needed,” Izzo-Brown said. “Sh’Nia did her job, and it was incredible.”
With the assist, Abam’s season point total now stands at a team-best 30 (11 G, 8 A). Gordon ranks second on the team with 17 points (7 G, 3 A).
With the lead, WVU dictated pace for much of regulation. The Bruins flipped the field late in the second half and found the chance they needed when defender Jacey Pederson served the ball into the box. Flemming connected with her head in front of the line. Newhouse got a hand on the ball, but she could not slow its momentum, and it went into the far left corner of the net.
The goal was only the ninth score allowed by the Mountaineers in 24 matches.
Gordon and Abam nearly connected on the golden goal with a minute remaining in the first overtime. Gordon drove to the baseline and sent the ball in to Abam at the right post. The Houston native got a shot off as she fell to the ground, but the ball was carried up and over the net.
The Mountaineers had three shots on-goal in the second overtime, including a bouncing shot from Lawrence in the 106th minute and a header from inside the box by Alli Magaletta in the 109th minute, but Micah came through with both saves.
Junior Heather Kaleohi had the best chance of the second half, as she sent a lofting shot wide of the box toward the frame in the 63rd minute, but it cruelly bounced off the crossbar.
Newhouse made a great save in the 84th minute, stopping a quick shot from Lauren Kaskie that kept the score at 1-0.
Abam paced the field with eight shots, including a game-high three on-goal.
With the win, WVU moves to 17-15-3 in all-time NCAA Tournament play, 12-6-3 in home matches and 2-2-1 in the third round.
This afternoon was the first-ever meeting between the Mountaineers and the Bruins.
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