Three former WVU women’s soccer players could make more history today more than 4,000 miles away from Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
Never before have three alumnae of Nikki Izzo-Brown’s program shared the field in a FIFA Women’s World Cup match, but that could happen when Canada and Cameroon square off at 3 ET in France.
Former Mountaineers Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence are key contributors for Canada and will each appear in their second Women’s World Cup, while West Virginia’s all-time matches played leader Michaela Abam is a first-time selection for Cameroon.
The trio has already accomplished something historic: This is the largest class of Mountaineers to ever appear in the same World Cup. Their former head coach says that alone is an incredible feat.
“This is the highest level,” said Izzo-Brown. “This is dreams of any young ponytail running around.”
No matter where they’ve played, Buchanan, Lawrence and Abam have had a knack for competing at the highest level.
After becoming the first Mountaineers to ever make a Women’s World Cup roster, Buchanan and Lawrence led West Virginia to the College Cup the following season. Abam is also third on West Virginia’s career scoring list.
All three athletes now play for the top three clubs in the Division 1 Feminine in France, which is regarded by UEFA as the best women’s league in Europe.
“They’re playing division one French league, the best of the best, and they’re just representing us so well,” said Izzo-Brown. “It’s like playing Major League Baseball or NFL football, and these women are doing it.”
The two Canadians are among the sport’s biggest stars in their country. Buchanan is the World Cup’s reigning young player of the tournament and recently helped Olympique Lyonnais win the championship in France’s top-flight division. Both her and Lawrence, who plays for the club Paris Saint-Germain, won Olympic bronze medals in 2016.
“I think both of them are continuing to develop at the professional level,” said Izzo-Brown. “So now they have three years of playing in the French league, playing for PSG and Lyon, which are two of the best teams in the world, really. You’re going to see their development continue, but also their experience.”
“All three are huge character kids,” said Izzo-Brown. “It just shows that the development can happen at West Virginia, and then how much they’re invested in their career professionally and at the highest stage.”
Izzo-Brown and her family are in Montpellier for the match. Admittedly, the only women’s soccer coach in WVU history doesn’t want to focus on the result of this contest. She instead wants to savor the moment with the players and their families.
Canada vs. Cameroon will kick off at 3 ET and air on FS1.
Watch an interview below with Izzo-Brown and Nick Farrell from the latest episode of the WVU Coaches Show: