After opening Big 12 Conference play with three straight wins, the WVU women’s soccer team hopes to continue their winning streak when they take on the No. 24 Baylor Bears on Friday.
Since joining the Big 12 in 2012, the Mountaineers (7-2-3, 3-0 Big 12) have never been defeated by Baylor (8-2-2, 2-1). While history is on their side, head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown doesn’t want to get arrogant.
“They have three players that have been putting lots of numbers up,” Izzo-Brown said about the Bears. “We know Baylor is a very difficult team. Obviously, they’re a Big 12 Tournament champ and Elite Eight team. Having an opportunity to play a great team like Baylor is exciting for us.”
In addition to being the historically better team, the Mountaineers quite possibly may have the upper hand in recent success as well.
Although Baylor was the Big 12 champion last season, the Mountaineers have been more prosperous as of late. After defeating the Kansas State Wildcats this past Friday, the Mountaineers have won six straight matches. Baylor, on the other hand, only has a win streak of two.
While Baylor finished non-conference play with a better record than WVU, the Mountaineers counter with the Big 12’s overall top record in conference play.
“I think those experiences are hugely important for us,” Izzo-Brown said about having played different styles of teams during non-conference play.
She emphasized that, other than in the win column, playing the non-conference schedule provided victories in that it allowed the team to better prepare for what would be thrown at them during conference play.
The Mountaineers’ recent success has also elevated them in the polls. The United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division 1 Women’s National Poll currently lists the Mountaineers at No. 16—a 10 spot jump from the previous week. Baylor sits at No. 24.
One key factor to helping the Mountaineers achieve the current ranking is junior goalkeeper Rylee Foster. Called the “fourth coach on the field” by Izzo-Brown, Foster has helped to shut out the Mountaineers’ last five opponents.
“It’s so important for our team to not only win but win with a shutout,” Izzo-Brown said. “We take great pride with not only winning, but making sure we get the shutout on the other side of things. Going into all of these conference games right now, that’s the goal and we’re looking forward to a big game against Baylor.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article said WVU was playing at Baylor. This is incorrect. Baylor is coming to Morgantown on Friday.