West Virginia midfielder Stefany Ferrer-vanGinkel takes the ball downfield against Duke on March 27, 2021, in Morgantown, W.Va.

West Virginia midfielder Stefany Ferrer-vanGinkel takes the ball downfield against Duke on March 27, 2021, in Morgantown, W.Va. 

The No. 5 West Virginia women’s soccer team looks to start their 21st consecutive NCAA Tournament bid this Saturday when they face Rice University. 

The Mountaineers had a first-round bye and had to await the winner of the Rice/Furman match to see who they would be facing off against in the second round.

West Virginia finished the 2020-21 regular season with a 10-2-1 mark, including 7-2 in Big 12 play. The team was unbeaten in the spring, finishing 3-0-1 with a pair of top-10 wins. 

“I’m going to attribute everything to this team because they have been so locked in and so focused to our success,” head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. 

Leading the way for the Mountaineers is senior midfielder Stefany Ferrer-vanGinkel and junior forward Alina Stahl, who are tied for most goals scored on the team with six. 

Ferrer-vanGinkel is also the leader for most points on the team with 15. Stahl is second on the squad with 14. Both players are tied for the team lead in total shots. 

Redshirt junior forward Lauren Segalla leads the team with five assists. In goal, sophomore goalkeeper Kayza Massey is 7-1-1 with two shutouts this season and has made 16 saves on the year. 

“They came here to win championships, they came here to get to the 24th, they don’t want to be that team that doesn’t make it,” Izzo-Brown said. “It’s really important that I have very competitive players, and this is a team that was very disappointed in the last game”. 

The last game for the Mountaineers was against Virginia on April 10. To close out the spring against the Cavaliers, WVU came to a draw. 

Looking at Rice University, it is coming off a 3-1 win over Furman on Wednesday. The team is unbeaten in its last ten matches (9-0-1) and is the first C-USA school to advance in the NCAA Tournament since 2011. 

The program's history with the NCAA Tournament is a small one. In its four previous trips (2004, 2005, 2014, 2017) the Owls have been eliminated in the first round each time.

Head coach for Rice is Brian Lee and this is his first time taking Rice to the NCAA Tournament and he is only in his second year of coaching. Lee is a 1993 graduate of Furman who started the women’s soccer program at his alma mater in 1994. 

The Mountaineers will have to watch out for the Owls, especially the freshman duo of Natalie Gorji and Mikala Furuto who combined for three goals in their victory over Furman. On defense for Rice is senior defender Mijke Roelfsema, who was also named the league’s Defender of the Year. 

Looking toward the net, the Owls have junior Bella Killgore, who was recently named Offensive Player of the Year. In this season Killgore has had an eight-game shutout, which came to an end against the Furman with a total of 833:22 consecutive minutes. 

The two teams meet this Saturday at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. The match is set to begin at noon.