Up to this point, the season has been a roller coaster for Nikki Izzo-Brown’s squad.
Despite going without a win in their first four matches for the first time in team history, the WVU women’s soccer team currently sits at 4-2-3 — good for seventh in the Big 12 Conference. While the Mountaineers are only halfway through the regular season, they are far from the success they have seen in previous years.
To get around that, the team hopes to rekindle those previous victories by leaning on the veterans of the squad as the team enters Big 12 play.
“We understand that we are going to follow the lead of our nine seniors and make sure that we’ve learned our lessons well in non-conference play,” Izzo-Brown said at her weekly press conference.
Izzo-Brown also discussed the importance of junior goalkeeper Rylee Foster to the team. Despite not having to go against many shot attempts, Foster contributes much more than meets the stat sheet.
“I think what’s really important, and I can’t stress this enough, is that Rylee is the fourth coach on the field,” Izzo-Brown said. “She’s got to be the one dictating play. She sees the field better than anybody. Even though players aren’t attacking at her, she still needs to keep us organized and ready and focused.”
The team will need to be on high alert as the level of their competition starts to increase. Three members of the Big 12 Conference are currently ranked in the United Soccer Coaches poll, including 22nd-ranked Texas Tech—the Mountaineer’s opponent this coming Friday.
The strength of the opponent stays high for the following matchup as the Mountaineers follow up with TCU on Sunday. TCU is just behind Texas Tech in the Big 12 with a 7-1-1 record.
“We are so excited to start Big 12 play,” Izzo-Brown said about this weekend’s matchups. “We know that it’s going to be the little things that are going to add up to the big things going into two nationally ranked opponents. Nothing like going on the road against two opponents that are just having an incredible start of their season. We know both games are going to be difficult.”
Ultimately, Izzo-Brown preaches one thing above all: getting better each and every day.
“I think that if we continue our development and get better every day, we can finish our opportunities, but also get those shutouts that are just as important,” Izzo-Brown said. “I think that us standing behind those seniors, but also recognizing everyone’s got a job to do — if you do your job, we’ll be fine. I never ask Rylee [Foster] to be a striker. If Rylee gets her job done, and Sh’Nia [Gordon] gets her job done, we’re going to get those W’s.”