Despite an impressive debut from freshman goalkeeper Kayza Massey, the Mountaineers were unable to overcome a penalty from the Red Raiders. A disappointed Nikki Izzo-Brown says that this shouldn’t knock her squad out of their focus.
“I think we [should] just stay with the plan, get a little bit better every day,” she said, “and understand that — conference play especially — with the success of conference teams, that we really gotta get after teams early and make sure that we find the back of the net.”
The Mountaineers are looking for redemption against Oklahoma State, another top team in the Big 12. Sitting at 10-1-3, the Cowgirls are the top scoring team in the conference and are coming off a 2-0 road win against Texas.
Historically, the Mountaineers have had no issues with the Cowgirls. In their nine meetings since West Virginia joined the Big 12, they have gone undefeated against Oklahoma State. This year may be different, as OSU is one of the toughest teams in the conference.
“They’re a really experienced team that has had a lot of success thus far, and we’re gonna have our hands full,” Izzo-Brown said. “Obviously Jaci Jones is always a huge threat, especially in her senior year. We know that they’re very dangerous in the attack, set pieces; so we just have to be focused for 90 minutes.”
Jones, a senior forward, is one of the Cowgirls’ top attackers with a total of 21 points so far this season — but she is far from the only threat on that squad. In total, OSU has four players in the list of top ten Big 12 goalscorers, each of which having 5 goals or more this season.
It is unclear who will start in net for the Mountaineers. Massey, who got the start due to an injury to Rylee Foster, did have a quality start in her last outing — but Izzo-Brown says Foster’s status will be a game-time decision.
“She was at training [on Tuesday] and we’re excited to have an opportunity that Rylee’s back on the pitch,” Izzo-Brown said.
The Mountaineers haven’t had much trouble scoring this year, with an average of 1.85 goals per game — but their streak of five consecutive 2-goal games was stopped last week when they were shut out by Texas Tech.
While they’ll be challenged with stopping the effective Oklahoma State offense, the Cowgirls are effective on defense as well. The Cowgirls have given up an average of just .65 goals per game — that’s second in the Big 12.
The Mountaineers kick off against Oklahoma State on Thursday at 7 p.m. This matchup will be broadcast on FOX Sports Networks and on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh.