West Virginia defender Julianne Vallerand lines up a shot against Penn State.

West Virginia defender Julianne Vallerand lines up a shot against Penn State. 

 

The West Virginia women’s soccer team has received a significant offensive boost from freshmen play this season.

The Mountaineers took a major blow in the offseason with seven starters graduating and only four starters returning. Currently, there are 12 freshmen on a team of 26.

Going into Sunday’s match against Bowling Green, 11 freshmen players had seen playing time in 2019. Of the players in their first year, three — Juliana Lynch, Gabby Robinson and Julianne Vallerand — have started at least four games.

This season, the Mountaineers have scored a total of 16 goals. Out of those 16, nine have been scored by freshmen. The team leader is freshman defender Vallerand with five goals in seven matches.

West Virginia has also scored 38 points this season, as 23 of those 38 points have come from freshmen.

After the season opener against Duquesne, head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown expressed her pleasure with her freshmen group.

“They are relentless, and they don’t want the standard of excellence to fall off,” Izzo-Brown said.

The team’s second-leading scorer is also a freshman. Forward Nicole Payne has three goals on the year while only starting in one game.

The spark provided by freshmen has been a major key for a West Virginia team that only has four seniors. Additionally, the Mountaineers lost one of their top returning players in the fifth game of the season when junior forward Lauren Segalla suffered a season-ending injury.