UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. —
No, but almost.
West Virginia’s women’s soccer team had been off to a staggering start this season with just one victory in three games and was facing the nation’s No. 1 team in Stanford, a team that had lost just five games in four years.
This was supposed to be a learning experience for the Mountaineers, but no one told them about that, least of all Frances Silva, who scored a goal in the 83rd minute to give the Mountaineers their first-ever victory over a No. 1 team, 1-0.
The victory in Game 2 of the Penn State Invitational at Jeffrey Field snapped Stanford’s 64-match, regular-season unbeaten streak.
“I’m so proud of this team,” said an emotional coach Nikki Izzo-Brown after the match. “It was a total team effort and they really stepped up, communicated well and believed in one another.
“We have so much respect for Stanford, and to be able to compete with them today was very encouraging. They get everyone’s best shot each time out, and fortunately, we were able to come away with a winning result.”
Freshman forward Kailey Utley earned a corner kick for the Mountaineers by serving a cross into the middle that was deflected off a Cardinal defender to set up the winning shot. Senior midfielder Bri Rodriguez drove a ball into the heart of the box that was punched out by goalkeeper Aly Gleason.
That did not put an end to the Mountaineer assault.
WVU’s Jess Crowder quickly fired a shot at the goal that was cleared off the line by a defender. Silva settled the clearance on her thigh and lofted a ball into the upper left corner from 16 yards out.
“I’m so happy right now,” Silva said. “You dream about making big plays in big games, and to be able to help my team knock off a No. 1 team, it’s awesome.”
The Mountaineers executed their game plan to perfection, keeping the dangerous Cardinal offense in front of them throughout the match.
“Stanford is an amazing team, and I’m not sure there is a better technical team out there,” said Izzo-Brown. “We wanted to keep them in front of us and get help from our midfield.”
The WVU defense allowed only one shot on-goal for the match — none in the final 47 minutes, and only one corner kick — although Stanford had 17 shots to just seven for WVU.
West Virginia also was able to create scoring chances in transition, leading to five shots on-goal and two corner kick tries.
Senior defender Bry McCarthy intercepted a pass in Stanford’s final third and carried the ball upfield, nearly landing an insurance goal in the 87th minute. McCarthy lofted a ball at the goal, pushing Gleason backward to make a save in front of the crossbar.
Stanford’s best scoring look of the match came in the 19th minute off the foot of forward Natalie Griffen. Stanford used a quick restart after a Mountaineer foul, playing a ball into the box on the right side that led to a cross at the back post. Griffen volleyed the ball just high of the frame.
The Mountaineers, now 2-2, return to action against third-ranked Penn State on Friday in the WVU 90 Minute Classic. Kickoff at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium is slated for 7 p.m.
Email Bob Hertzel at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. —
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