From WVU Athletic Department reports
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (August 26, 2016) – The No. 6-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team sent more than 2,000 Mountaineer fans home happy on Friday, as the squad opened its 2016 home season at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium with a 1-0 victory over No. 8 Clemson.
They followed up the win beating St. Francis (PA) 3-1 at home to start the season 3-0-1.
Friday’s showdown was the first-ever meeting between the Mountaineers and the Tigers (2-1), and the victory gives WVU at least one win over a top-10 opponent in each of the last 12 seasons.
The crowd of 2,019, the fourth-best attendance mark in program history, also helped the Mountaineers extend their home unbeaten streak to 26.
“Wins like tonight’s are huge for confidence,” Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “We beat a great team in Clemson. They have 11 returners and an All-American in goal. That’s an incredible ACC team we just beat.
“It was huge. The crowd was huge – they responded, and it was incredible.”
Locked in a scoreless battle 10 minutes into the second half, junior defender Amandine Pierre-Louis took matters into her own hands. After receiving the ball out wide from sophomore Easther Mayi Kith, Pierre-Louis beat two Clemson players before sending a shot near the penalty-kick line toward the far upper right corner of the net.
“Everyone was on task today,” Pierre-Louis said. “Easther found me out wide, and I knew it was time I had to go up there because everyone was in the box. I knew I had to put the ball in there and go myself. I knew I needed to shoot – worse case, someone would find the rebound.”
The goal was the first of the season for Pierre-Louis and her eighth career score. Through three games, she paces the Mountaineers with four points (1 G, 2 A).
Though the score was tight, the Mountaineers looked in control of the contest throughout the muggy evening, finishing with an 18-6 shot advantage. The WVU defense, bolstered by the return of All-America center back Kadeisha Buchanan, held the Tigers to just one shot on-goal, a late chance by midfielder Shannon Horgan that Mountaineer freshman Rylee Foster easily saved. Clemson entered the night averaging 2.5 goals per game.
Three Mountaineers finished with two shots on-goal each, and Clemson’s Kailen Sheridan was forced to make seven saves, five in the first half alone. The Tigers finished with a 5-2 edge in corner kicks.
“We had a lot of good chances – we were knocking the whole first half,” Izzo-Brown added. “Obviously, Z (Pierre-Louis) made her mind up and created that shot for herself and buried it. It was a huge moment, and special players step up in those moments, and Z did that for us.”
The Mountaineers’ offensive attack clicked early, and junior forward Michaela Abam nearly gave the team a one-goal advantage in the fifth minute, as Sheridan juggled the ball off a hard blast but ultimately made her first save of the night.
Just 10 minutes later, Pierre-Louis took a patented hard shot that Sheridan stopped. Senior midfielder Ashley Lawrence had an almost-immediate follow up from just beyond the 18, but the ball went wide of the far right post.
With just six minutes remaining in the opening half, sophomore forward Sh’Nia Gordon had a great look at the net, but her lofting shot was tipped away by Sheridan for WVU’s second and final corner kick of the match.
Abam closed the half with a hard shot beyond the 18-yard box in the 41st minute, but Sheridan met the ball at the left post.
Clemson’s first chance to even the score came in the 64th minute, as the Tigers earned back-to-back corner kicks, but the Mountaineer defense stood its ground and negated any clean looks at the net.
The Tigers looked dangerous again in the 77th minute, as defender Sam Staab’s floating shot from distance sailed over the box and toward the net, but the Mountaineers’ shutout, their second of the season, was persevered when the ball hit off the high post and out of play.
Following Foster’s save on Horgan in the 88th minute, the Mountaineer defense locked down and denied the Tigers another look at the net. Pierre-Louis nearly put the score at 2-0 in the 90th minute, but after carrying the ball the entire length of the field, her shot from wide skimmed the far right post and went out of play.