West Virginia midfielder Lily McCarthy dribbles the ball against a Virginia defender on April 3, 2021, in Morgantown, W.Va.

West Virginia midfielder Lily McCarthy dribbles the ball against a Virginia defender on April 3, 2021, in Morgantown, W.Va. 

The West Virginia University women’s soccer team has been on a tear so far in its spring slate with back-to-back victories over top-10 ACC opponents to set up a regular season finale rematch against Virginia. 

The No. 5 Mountaineers (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) are coming off a 1-0 win over then-No. 10 Virginia on April 3 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown. Freshman midfielder Lilly McCarthy tallied the game-winning assist in the win and earned Big 12 Freshman of the Week. 

The Big 12 All-Freshman Team selection became the first of the Mountaineers to win Freshman of the Week honors since junior defender Jordan Brewster on Oct. 9, 2018. This weekly honor is the first of McCarthy’s career. 

“I’m happy to have gotten it but I was happier with the win, and that’s really what I care about,” McCarthy said. 

With her assist on junior midfielder Isabella Sibley’s goal in the 86th minute, it helped WVU take down its second consecutive top-10 opponent and also tallied a shot on goal in the victory. McCarthy credits practice as the reason why the squad is so successful, despite it possibly being repetitive for some players. 

“I think we are playing so well as of recently, and I think that’s all because of what we’ve been doing in practice,” McCarthy said. “We’ve just been working on, well, some people would say the same thing, but that’s literally how you win games.”

Even with the strong start into the spring slate — beating Saint Joseph’s 3-1 on March 7 in the first game, then getting a huge 3-2 win against Duke on March 27 and the most recent win against the Cavaliers — McCarthy feels like there is always room for development for herself and the rest of the team.

“Honestly, I think we can improve on everything; I think you can always say that. I mean I think we are doing pretty well right now, so I wouldn’t really change much. I really love the team right now,” McCarthy said. “I think I’ve been playing pretty well, there is always stuff I can work on, of course, so I watch film to keep that up but, honestly with the team and as well as myself, I think we are just connecting so well.”

The Baltimore native has been playing soccer since the little league program before kindergarten and credits attending a John Hopkins women’s soccer game with her father as getting her fascinated with the sport. 

“They were playing in the stadium near my house, and I just remember my dad was sitting next to me and [me] being like ‘I want to play in a big stadium one day’ and he said, ‘Well we can make that happen’ and then we went home and passed the ball around,” McCarthy said. “So, I’m just happy, I’m literally living my dream right now.” 

The Mountaineers make a return trip to Virginia for the 2020-21 regular season finale on Sunday at 3 p.m. against the Cavaliers, and McCarthy’s goal for the matchup is to come away with another crucial win. 

“It’s going to be difficult playing at UVA, at home especially, because they’ll kind of want revenge, I guess you could say that,” McCarthy said. “Also, it’s always hard to play away, so we’ll have to grind out that win.”