2019 has been rocky so far for West Virginia women’s soccer. While remaining undefeated against unranked opponents to start of the year, their inability to overcome early deficits against top foes in Stanford and Virginia.
These results are not quite unexpected for a young team, but that doesn’t mean they’re giving up. Rather, Coach Nikki Izzo-Brown is figuring out ways to plug the void which is normally filled with experience.
“When you have experienced players that teach constantly on the field, it makes our job as coaches a lot easier,” she said. “There’s just a lot of coaching that has to go on right now when you don’t have a big upper class to help with that.”
With four seniors and four juniors on the squad, there are some experienced and skillful players on the squad. But as Izzo-Brown notes, they are simply outnumbered. On top of that, it doesn’t help that they are facing three top-ten opponents in their first five games.
That tough schedule — which Izzo-Brown takes responsibility for — does cloud the bright spots of this team, including the play of Julianne Vallerand. The freshman from Quebec has already notched three goals off the bench in her first four games as a Mountaineer — all while also participating in camp with the Canadian national team.
“That’s always hard for a freshman, you know, representing her country and WVU,” Izzo-Brown said. “So I think she’s kind of finding her way now finally, because she missed most of preseason and a lot of training.”
With Penn State — another top ten opponent — heading to Morgantown on Friday, the focus is just on one thing, and that’s West Virginia soccer. In order to get their record back on track, Izzo-Brown says that her squad needs to eliminate the individual mistakes.
As they are clinging on to the edge of the rankings, she also says it doesn’t quite matter where they’re ranked in September, but rather where they finish the season.
“Last year, I think we finished 14th. That’s what our hope is, is where we end,” she said. “Right now, we’re barely hanging into the rankings, but we’ve got to prove that we deserve to be in them.”