Forward Nicole Payne celebrates after scoring a goal against Kansas State on September 18, 2020 at Dick Dlesk Stadium.

Forward Nicole Payne celebrates after scoring a goal against Kansas State on September 18, 2020 at Dick Dlesk Stadium.

The West Virginia women’s soccer team unofficially starts their spring campaign this Sunday and prepares for their NCAA Tournament march, which is looking to be a legitimate opportunity since 2016 for head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown and the Mountaineers to bring a national title to Morgantown.  

The Mountaineers finished 7-2 during their conference-only fall slate. WVU was No.4 in the country and had its season finale showdown with No. 3 TCU for the Big 12 regular season title. In the end the Mountaineers lost the closely contested match, 1-0. With the win, TCU claimed the 2020 Big 12 regular season championship.

“We have to understand that from this loss, we have to get better.” Izzo-Brown said following the loss against TCU. 

The Mountaineers are putting that in the past and focusing on the future. WVU returns to play with a total of six contests, including four regular season matches. Last fall, the NCAA approved moving fall championships to the spring of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

West Virginia will begin the spring with an exhibition match against Akron on Sunday. After the exhibition match, the Mountaineers will travel to Saint Joseph’s for its spring regular-season opener on March 7. 

West Virginia will face the Racing Louisville Football Club for an exhibition match on March 13 in Louisville, Kentucky. 

WVU then returns to Morgantown at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium for a pair of regular season matches. On March 27, the Mountaineers face Duke, before a match with Virginia on April 3. A week later WVU make a trip to Charlottesville, Virginia, to take on the Cavaliers on April 10. 

“As we approach our NCAA Championship segment of the season, I’m excited to see how each player continues to develop,” Izzo-Brown said. 

Last fall the Mountaineers finished at No.4 in the United Soccer Coaches National Poll. The squad was in the top 10 in all ten editions of the poll, including being in the top five, five times. 

Six players for WVU were honored by the Big 12 last fall. Senior midfielder Stefany Ferrer-vanGinkel and junior forward Alina Stahl were named to the All-Big 12 First Team, while redshirt junior forward Lauren Segalla and sophomore defender Nicole Payne earned All-Big 12 Second Team. Freshman midfielder Lilly McCarthy was named to the conference’s All-Freshman Team. 

Junior defender Jordan Brewster was the conference’s defensive player of the year and on Jan. 28 was named to the 2020-21 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List. This is the tenth consecutive season that a WVU player earned the recognition. 

“We are excited to see these six players recognized by the conference,” Izzo-Brown said. “Each of them has worked extremely hard to get their job done. I’m so proud of how each one has impacted our success and strived to become the best visions of themselves.”

Due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, it is unknown at this time the percentage of capacity for home games. Information on stadium capacity and ticket availability will be released at a later date.