From WVU Athletic Department Report
#1 West Virginia Mountaineers (22-1-2) vs #6 North Carolina (17-3-4)
Friday, Dec. 2 – 5 p.m. – San Jose, CA – Avaya Stadium
TV – ESPNU (Jenn Hildreth on the call and Julie Foudy providing color)
Radio – Moutaineer Sports Network – WVUsports.com / TuneIn app on mobile devices
Friday’s winner will meet the winner of No. 2-seeds USC and Georgetown in the College Cup Final on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m. ET, at Avaya Stadium.
“There are so many things to celebrate this season, but I’ve said this since day one, until we’re No. 1 at the end of the year do I even reflect on the numbers,” Nikki Izzo-Brown, the only coach in WVU program history, noted. “We have a tough opponent in front of us, and all I’m worried about right now is making sure we bring our best for North Carolina.
“It’s a game, and I’m not going to put any more in it than what we’ve done all year long. We’ve stayed in such a great routine and made sure we’re just worrying about what we’re doing and that the girls are staying focused on what we need to do. We have takeaways after every game and improvements that we want to do. I think that’s worked. I’m not really worried about anything but how I’ve approached this team in every game thus far.”
The 2016 Big 12 Conference regular-season and tournament champions, the Mountaineers (22-1-2, 8-0) ride a 16-match unbeaten streak into Friday’s contest. The winningest team in program history, WVU is 18-15-3 in all-time NCAA Tournament matches and 4-1 in neutral-site contests. Dating back to the 2015 season, the Mountaineers have outscored their opponents, 19-5, in tournament play and have posted 15 shutouts, including six clean sheets in their last nine matches.
Friday is only the second meeting between WVU and UNC (17-3-4, 6-2-2 ACC). The defending national champions defeated the Mountaineers, 4-2, on Sept. 8, 2013, at Koskinen Stadium in the Duke Nike Classic, in Durham, North Carolina.
Under the direction of legendary coach Anson Dorrance for 38 years (!!!) — UNC women’s soccer has been a dynasty. UNC owns 22 National Championships, including 21 NCAA titles since the program’s inception in 1979. Friday is the team’s first College Cup appearance since winning its last title in 2012.
Among UNC rich list of women’s soccer alums include nine players who were on the 2015 US Women’s National Team’s FIFA World Cup winning roster — and one of our own — Gibsonia’s Meghan Klingenberg.
“We’re just worried about us,” Izzo-Brown said. “This team is definitely unique. It’s a team that is behind great leadership. We have so much experience on this team. We have Kadeisha (Buchanan) and Ashley (Lawrence), who have experienced things on a different level, too, having played in Olympic and World Cup matches. We fall on them a lot to make sure the team is ready. This team isn’t going to worry about anything but what we have to do at hand.”
The Mountaineers advanced to the College Cup with a 1-0 win over No. 5-ranked and third-seeded Duke on Nov. 26, in Morgantown. The Tar Heels claimed their spot with a 1-0 win at No. 3-ranked and top-seeded South Carolina on Nov. 25, in Columbia, South Carolina.
Friday’s match should be a defensive battle. WVU ranks No. 2 nationally with a 0.349 goals-against average (GAA), while the Tar Heels sit at No. 12 with a 0.542 GAA.
Anchored by senior center back Kadeisha Buchanan, a three-time NSCAA All-American and the 2016 espnW National Player of the Year, the Mountaineer backline has posted a program-record and nation-best 17 shutouts and allowed nine goals. Since falling to Georgetown, 1-0 (2OT), in its only loss of the season, WVU has posted a shutout in 29 of 32 halves played and allowed just three goals. Freshman Rylee Foster has started 15 matches between the posts and ranks No. 1 nationally with a 0.271 GAA.
Tar Heel senior Lindsey Harris has started 23 of 24 matches and shows a 0.58 GAA, allowing 14 goals and making 91 saves. She is credited with 10 of the team’s 13 clean sheets.
Offensively, the Mountaineers rank No. 30 nationally with a 2.0 goals/game average. Junior forward Michaela Abam continues to pace the squad with 31 points on a team-best 11 goals, the 10th-best total nationally, and a career-high nine assists. Senior Ashley Lawrence shows a team-high 10 helpers, three short of the program’s single-season record.
The Tar Heel attack ranks No. 83 nationally with a 1.71 goals/game average. Freshman forward Bridgette Andrzejewski paces with 20 points (9 G, 2 A). Classmate Madison Schultz ranks No. 25 nationally with five game-winning goals.
In addition, WVU has two players from the local area, both sophomores, Hannah Abraham (Albert Gallatin) and Macy Stalnaker (Butler). Abraham (4 G, 2 A) has been a super sub for the Mountaineers — providing a left footed presence on the flanks — having set up and scored numerous goals late in games this season.
Led by former Greensburg Central Catholic standout Frannie Crouse, last year’s College Cup was won by Penn State. Penn State fell this year in the NCAA’s second round to Virginia, 2-0.