From WVU Athletic Department Reports
FORT WORTH (October 21, 2016) – The No. 1-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team clinched its fifth straight Big 12 Conference regular-season title with a 3-0 win at TCU tonight inside Garvey-Rosenthal Soccer Stadium.
With two games remaining in the regular season, no Big 12 team can catch WVU’s conference point total, pushed to 18 with its sixth straight league shutout. The Mountaineers (14-1-1, 6-0) are the first team in conference history to win five consecutive outright championships.
WVU’s program conference title count moves to 15, and its Big 12 title haul now stands at seven. This marks the 10th time in conference history the preseason favorite also won the regular-season title.
The victory also is program win No. 300 for the Mountaineers (14-1-1, 6-0), with all credited to 21-year coach Nikki Izzo-Brown.
The Horned Frogs (8-5-2, 0-5-1) are the sixth straight Big 12 Conference opponent to not score against the Mountaineer backline. The clean sheet is WVU’s 10th of the season, five short of the program record set in 2015.
After a scoreless first half, junior forward Michaela Abam gave WVU the advantage for good, connecting on a hard, low shot in the 52nd minute for her team-best eighth goal of the season. The play started on the team’s fourth corner kick of the night. After the ball bounced inside the box, senior defender Kadeisha Buchanan got a foot on it and sent it to Abam, who turned and placed her low shot toward the left corner. TCU freshman Katie Lund slowed the ball down, but she could not stop it from going between her legs and into the back of the net.
The goal is Abam’s 28th career score and moves her into a tie with assistant coach Marisa Kanela for 10th place on the team’s career goals list. The game-winner was the third of the year for the Houston native.
The Mountaineers’ advantage jumped to two just 14 minutes later when junior midfielder Carla Portillo made the most of a TCU foul, connecting on the ensuing free kick with a hard shot that sailed away from Lund’s hands and toward the left pocket. The chance from three-yards outside the box was a result of a Horned Frog foul on sophomore forward Sh’Nia Gordon.
WVU’s third goal came 10 minutes later off the head of sophomore forward Grace Cutler. Positioned inside the box, the Fort Collins, Colorado, native buried a great cross from junior forward Heather Kaleiohi for her second goal of the season.
Tonight marks the first time this season the Mountaineers have tallied three or more goals against a Big 12 opponent.
The Mountaineers finished with an 18-3 edge in shots and forced Lund into seven saves, all in the first half. The squad also earned a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks.
The WVU defense was again stellar, giving up just one shot on-goal, a first-half chance by midfielder Meghan Murphy. Freshman Rylee Foster made one save in the victory. No Big 12 opponent has put more than two shots on-goal against WVU this season.
Foster was challenged early in the first half with back-to-back TCU corner kicks in the sixth minute. The rookie was especially strong on the first kick, as she batted away a header by Murphy at the right corner. The play resulted in a second corner kick, but nothing came of the chance.
Lund befuddled the Mountaineers in the first half, making seven saves, including a stop on a great one-timer from Portillo. After receiving the ball from Gordon just inside the box, the midfielder sent an immediate hard shot toward the net. Lund batted the ball up into the air before finally catching it.
Junior defender Amandine Pierre-Louis had two great looks in the first half, including a long shot off a Mountaineer free kick in the 39th minute that forced Lund to make a diving save at the right post. The Mountaineers earned their second corner kick of the half of the play, but could not connect on the chance.
WVU had another great chance in the half’s waning minutes, as senior defender Carly Black sent a great cross ball into the box. Cutler was able to get her head on the ball, but Lund stood her ground at the goal line for the catching save.
Senior midfielder Ashley Lawrence paced the field with four shots.
With the win, WVU moves to 5-1-1 all-time against the Horned Frogs.
The Mountaineers conclude their road trip at Texas on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m. ET. Sunday’s match will be broadcast nationally by FSN and regionally on ROOT SPORTS Pittsburgh.