Three second-half goals, including the game-winner just 28 seconds out of the locker room, pushed the No. 13-ranked and second-seeded West Virginia University women’s soccer team to a 3-0 win over seventh-seeded Oklahoma in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Big 12 Soccer Championship this evening at Swope Soccer Village.
With the win, career victory No. 350 for coach Nikki Izzo-Brown and earned in the program’s 500th match, the Mountaineers (12-4-3, 7-2) advance to the championship semifinal for the sixth straight season.
Knotted in a 0-0 tie and searching for its first goal since defeating the Sooners (7-10-2, 3-5-1) 4-1 in Norman, Oklahoma, on Oct. 21, the Mountaineers wasted little time in the second half, as seniors Nadya Gill and Sh’Nia Gordon connected in the 46th minute.
Gill pushed the ball ahead to the end line before sending a cross into the box. Gordon received the ball through traffic near the penalty hash and immediately directed her shot toward the right post and out of the reach of OU goalkeeper McKinely Crone.
“This team has unfinished business,” Izzo-Brown said. “It was all about our tempo, moving the ball a little bit quicker and doing the little extra things. I thought Nadya and Nia did a great job. Everything is about tempo, and for us to go out and do it 28 seconds in – it wasn’t my battle cry, but I’ll take it. We wanted to get on them early and set the tone early. That’s exactly what we did.”
Gordon’s goal, her team-best sixth of the season, is her eighth career game-winner and team-best third of the season. She now paces the Mountaineers with 13 points (6 G, 1 A).
Twenty-one minutes later, Gill got in on the scoring action, as she pounced on a deflected ball near the right post and sent a low shot across the goal line and toward the left post for her second goal of the season.
The score gave Gill a career-best three points (1 G, 1 A) for the match.
In the waning minutes of the match, sophomore forward Lauren Segalla gave the Mountaineers a two-goal insurance. Defended and driving toward the net, Crone blocked Segalla’s initial attempt at the top of the box. The ball bounced over the Sooner and Segalla pursued, chasing the ball into the goal box before scoring on an empty net for her third of the season.
WVU’s three-goal performance is its first in the championship since defeating Texas Tech, 3-1, in the 2017 quarterfinal match.
The Mountaineers finished with a 26-8 shot edge and forced Crone into six saves, four in the first half.
Senior defender Bianca St. Georges paced the field with a career, single-game high seven shots.
Junior Rylee Foster made one first-half save for WVU’s ninth shutout of the season, her eighth of the year and WVU’s first since earning a 2-0 win at Iowa State on Oct. 12. The Mountaineers are only the fourth team this season to deny OU a goal.
“It was huge,” Izzo-Brown said of WVU’s shutout. “It was huge for us to tighten up. It was huge for us to make sure we took care of our defensive responsibilities. That senior leadership in the back is so important, and I know they’re proud of this performance.”
With the clean sheet, Foster now shows 28 career shutouts and stands alone at No. 3 in program history.
The Mountaineers finished with a 9-4 edge in shots.
Just three minutes before Segalla’s late goal, OU had its best chance of the second half. The Sooners worked the ball into the box to defender Paige Welch, who immediately sent a header toward the net. The ball skimmed the left post and went out of play.
The Mountaineers came calling early in the first half and earned back-to-back looks in the fourth minute. The first, a shot inside the box by Segalla, was blocked. Senior midfielder Grace Cutler pounced on the deflection and immediately sent her shot in, but Crone was at the right post for the stop.
Three minutes later, senior forward Hannah Abraham nearly gave WVU a quick advantage. Gill sent a great cross into the box, and Abraham immediately directed a shot from the six-yard box was stopped by Crone at her line.
Foster’s first-half save was routine. With the ball 10-yards high of the box, forward Kristina O’Donnell sent a bouncing shot toward the net, and Foster fell on the ball at her line.
Great footwork led to another WVU chance in the 28th minute. Gill pushed the ball ahead before dishing to Segalla, who sent it wide to Gordon. Gordon’s immediate curving shot was caught by Crone.
The Sooners pressed WVU in the 38th minute. OU worked the ball into the box and found the head of defender Jordan Hobart, but her chance near the six-yard box went wide of the left post.
With the win, WVU improves to 9-0-1 all-time against the Sooners and 3-0 against OU in the Big 12 Championship. The Mountaineers improve to 11-2-2 in all-time Big 12 Championship matches.
The Mountaineers return to Swope Soccer Village on Friday, Nov. 2, for a semifinal match against the winner of No. 3-seed Texas – No. 6-seed Kansas. Action will begin at 8 p.m. EST.