Women’s soccer aims for ranked victory over No. 23 Kansas

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After taking a victory over Oklahoma on national television, the West Virginia women’s soccer team turns their attention to the 23rd-ranked Kansas Jayhawks as they hope for their first ranked win of the year.

West Virginia traditionally has dominated this series, holding a 7-1 record over the Jayhawks. This year, though, they come to Lawrence as the underdog against a ranked Kansas squad that boasts an 11-4-1 record and sits 6 points away from the top of the conference.

“It’s going to be really important that we own critical space, and we just stay very compact, and make sure that defensively we’re not giving [Katie] McClure any opportunities to score because she’s just terrorizing in her senior year this year,” said WVU head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown.

McClure has established herself as a top attacker in the Big 12, tallying 11 goals and 7 assists so far this year — both of which are second in the conference.

“She’s just so tenacious, she’s great on the dribble, she can strike right- and left-footed, she’s got a knack for finishing, dangerous pace” Izzo-Brown said. “So, she’s kind of got it all.”

The Mountaineers are coming off their recent victory over Oklahoma, which doubled as goalkeeper Rylee Foster’s 37th career clean sheet — the second-most all-time in program history.

Now that her youthful roster is gaining experience, Izzo-Brown says she hopes that they can keep up this high level of defensive play into their contest with Kansas.

“My hope is that we’re learning and we just eliminate those mental errors so we can beat a tough team like Kansas,” she said.

West Virginia’s attack has been depleted since attacker Lauren Segalla and defender Julianne Vallerand both sustained injuries earlier in the season. Despite missing every game since Sept. 15, the freshman Vallerand is still the team’s leading scorer with 5 goals.

They have been able to find offense elsewhere in their lineup, though. Sophomore forward Alina Stahl has stepped up in the attacking third, most recently giving the Mountaineers their game winner over Oklahoma on Sunday.

Sarah Peters will get the start in net for Kansas. So far in 2019, the sophomore has a record of 10-4-1 with a league-leading 7 clean sheets.

The Jayhawks will pose as the sixth ranked opponent the Mountaineers have faced this year. They are 0-4-1 in their previous four, including a pair of home losses to No. 15 Oklahoma State and No. 14 Texas Tech.

This match will feature two of the most experienced coaches in college soccer, with Izzo-Brown in her 24th season at West Virginia and Kansas’s Mark Francis in his 21st.

West Virginia kicks off against No. 23 Kansas at 8 p.m. on Thursday. The match will be broadcast

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