SAN JOSE, Calif. (December 2, 2016) – In tightly contested games — sometimes you need a special player to make a special play.
And West Virginia women’s soccer team — in its first ever College Cup National Semifinal were boosted by a left-footed shot by junior forward Michaela Abam in the 74th minute to propelled the No. 1 Mountaineers to its first-ever NCAA College Cup Final with a 1-0 victory over No. 6 North Carolina in front of 4,293 fans at Avaya Stadium on Friday afternoon.
Making their first College Cup appearance in program history, the Mountaineers (23-1-2, 8-0) extended their unbeaten streak to 17 matches and turned in their program-record 18th shutout of the season. Additionally, West Virginia won its 23rd game, the most in team history and tied for the Big 12 Conference record.
WVU will play for its first national championship against USC in the College Cup Final on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 6 p.m. ET/3 p.m. PT, at Avaya Stadium.
We found a way to win, we defending and got the shut out and are thrilled to be going on to the championship game,” said Nikki Izzo-Brown.
Abam’s goal, her team-leading 12th of the season, came at 73:46. The play began with a free kick on the far side of the field, where the ball was sent into the box.
It bounced out to Abam on the left side of the box about 10 yards out. The junior touched it once — then made a nice cut-back move to her left to create space before sending an dazzling shot — top shelf and into the top back of the net, sneaking the ball through the little space between the keeper and the right post.
It was Abam’s team-best fifth game-winning goal of the season — and it was a beauty.
“I saw that one of the defenders that was coming out was overcommitting, and it was a great ball in,” said Abam. “I just kind of cut it and struck it with my left foot. We’ve been working on those kinds of shots for God knows how long.”
Abam led the team with four shots, two on-goal. Junior forward Heather Kaleiohi registered three shots, while sophomore Sh’Nia Gordon added two shots, with one on-goal.
WVU had 13 shots, six on-goal, while the Tar Heels (17-4-4) had eight shots, none coming on goal. UNC is the third opponent WVU has denied a shot on-goal, and the first since Sept. 30.
The shutout is the eighth of the season for freshman goalkeeper Rylee Foster.
Here are the full game highlights.
Sunday’s National Championship match will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU, with Jenn Hildreth on the call and Julie Foudy providing color.
The Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG will broadcast the match locally on WZST-FM, 100.9, Morgantown/Fairmont. Out-of-market Mountaineer fans can catch the broadcast online at WVUsports.com or on the TuneIn app through their mobile devices. Andrew Caridi will handle the call.