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One year after being bounced from the NCAA tournament in a match going down to penalty kicks, the No. 11 West Virginia women’s soccer team will begin its pursuit for a national title this weekend.

Yet, as the season is in its infancy, the team will look to replace some key departures: defender Easther Mayi Kith, who led the team in 2018 game minutes, as well as forward Sh’Nia Gordon and defender Bianca St. Georges, who finished No. 1 and No. 2 in goals scored, among others.

That process will begin in the season opener on Friday night as the Mountaineers will take on the visiting Duquesne Dukes at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown. 

Duquesne, a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, finished the season with a record of 6-9-2 — despite going 6-1-2 at home, the team was winless in seven games on the road, while also picking up a loss in its lone neutral site game.

This will be the first time that the Mountaineers and Dukes play since 2017, a battle in which West Virginia emerged victorious. WVU holds the all-time advantage with eight wins, zero losses and two ties.

After a day off on Saturday, the Mountaineers will travel to University Park, Pennsylvania, and take on the No. 3 Stanford Cardinal on Sunday in a neutral site game on the campus of Penn State University.

Stanford, which will be coming off of a tough matchup against No. 6 Penn State on Friday, is returning four of its top five team leaders in points from the 2018 season. 

Through those efforts, the Cardinal finished last season with an overall record of 21-1-2, with its road coming to an end after losing to eventual champion Florida State in the College Cup Semifinal. 

The Mountaineers have only matched up once with Stanford. On Aug. 26, 2012 — also at Jeffrey Field on the campus of Penn State — WVU emerged victorious by a 1-0 final score.

While there are not currently any details for following along with the matchup against Stanford, Friday’s game against Duquesne will be broadcast on wvusports.com. That game is slated to begin at 7 p.m. while the game with Stanford will begin at noon on Sunday.