Mountaineers must build on momentum
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 01:08
What was the Big 12 supposed to think?
They’ve heard about this West Virginia women’s soccer team. It’s a team that won last season’s Big East Championship, only to lose in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. This tournament loss came in a game the Mountaineers hosted against a middle-of-the-pack ACC team in Virginia Tech. It was a very difficult draw in all fairness. But still, WVU was a conference champion.
Then, after crowning themselves queens of the Big East, they did what most athletes dream of doing – they went out on top.
Off to the Big 12 Conference, where they would play the likes of Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Baylor, as opposed to Notre Dame, Marquette and Villanova.
While the competition at the top of both conferences is pretty similar, the Big 12, with schools like Oklahoma and Texas, definitely boasts more depth than the Big East.
The WVU inaugural Big 12 season opened up with a home match against La Salle. The Mountaineers, who returned seven starters from that Big East Championship, went in favored over La Salle but lost. According to head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown, the loss came from freshmen mistakes and the upperclassmen’s failure to back them out.
"Our youth showed, but our upperclassmen broke down, too," Izzo-Brown said after the La Salle loss. "(Bry McCarthy) lost her composure with the first goal."
The Big 12 has heard about McCarthy, as well.
She was a member of the preseason Hermann
trophy watch list and spent the summer working out with the Canadian National Team, where she was the last defender cut before the team shipped off to the Olympics. But here she was giving up the first goal in the first game of the season.
It doesn’t matter because the first game is no measure for how the season would go. After releasing their jitters, the Mountaineers went on to beat Western Carolina 2-1 the following Sunday. Certainly, they were back to their winning ways.
Not so fast.
The Mountaineers would stumble once again in their opening game of the Penn State Invitational against a Central Michigan squad that shut out WVU 2-0.
There the Mountaineers sat at 1-2 on the season, losing two games they definitely expected to win.
Surely by this time the Big 12 was asking where the West Virginia team that registered 11 shutouts and reeled off 16 wins in 18 games last season could be. They might have also been thinking what WVU was going to do when Sunday rolled around and the Mountaineers would have to take on the No. 1 team in the nation in Stanford.
With the Big 12 and others beginning to raise doubt on the Mountaineers, Izzo-Brown led her team into a battle with the best in the land, and they took them down. The only goal of the match came off the foot of junior Frances Silva, and West Virginia triumphed 1-0 in a defensive battle.
With the win against No. 1 Stanford, the Mountaineers continue to have the Big 12 baffled. Are they a team capable of winning 16 of 18 games and taking down the best team in the country? Or was the Stanford game simply a fluke, and will WVU continue to struggle with consistency?
Perhaps Friday’s home match with No. 3 Penn State will help the Big 12 and WVU soccer fans everywhere find out just what kind of season we are going to be in for. After all, it was after the Mountaineers who sat at 1-2 after a 5-0 blowout from Penn State, and went on to win 16 of 18 matches and a Big East Championship a year ago.