DURHAM, N.C. — Two second-half goals from junior forward Michaela Abam pushed the No. 4-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team to a 3-1 victory at No. 6 Duke Friday evening at Koskinen Stadium.
The victory, WVU’s first-ever against Duke, gives the Mountaineers (6-0-1) a 2-0-1 mark against top-10 opponents this season and marks the first time since 2012 and the third time since 2005 WVU has defeated two top-10 teams in one year.
WVU is now 3-0-1 against ranked opponents seven games into the season. The victory pushes the team’s win streak to six.
#WVU holds on, defeats No. 5 Duke on its home field! #WVU moves to 6-0-1, 2-0-1 against top-10 teams! #HailWV pic.twitter.com/AfSOCYzypv— WVU Women's Soccer (@wvuwomenssoccer) September 10, 2016
“This was a total team effort — we were fearless tonight,” Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “I was proud of the way these athletes came after Duke. They stuck with the game plan and were focused. They were able to finish three goals, and that’s something we haven’t done this year. I was proud of the way we finished our opportunities.
“Tonight’s win really shows just how focused this group is. They know that every game — every opportunity — they want to get better. This is just another opportunity where we got better and came out on top.”
Tonight marks the first time in 2016 the WVU offense has scored more than two goals. Conversely, it also marks the first time in 331 minutes the Duke defense has allowed an opponent goal.
Though WVU controlled play throughout the first 45 minutes and entered the locker room at halftime up 1-0, the second half was a different story, as the Blue Devils (4-2-1) amped up their pressure after going down two goals in the 50th minute.
Following a Duke goal in the 66th minute, the Mountaineers willed to bend but not break. A flurry of chances for the Blue Devils resulted in a goal kick for junior goalkeeper Michelle Newhouse in the 79th minute. It floated past midfield and found the feet of sophomore Sh’Nia Gordon, who immediately played it ahead to classmate Hannah Abraham. The forward charged toward the net but was tackled from behind by Lizzy Raben, who was whistled for the foul. Junior forward Michaela Abam stepped to the line for the Mountaineers’ first penalty kick of the season and connected, delivering WVU its second and final two-goal lead.
“Duke really came after us in the second half,” Izzo-Brown said. “We stayed plugged in. We knew they were going to look to score again. I give a lot of credit to Duke, too — they’re a good team.”
The Mountaineers finished with a 16-8 edge in shots; the WVU defense held Duke to just one shot in the first half, a Blue Devil season low. WVU placed seven shots on-goal to Duke’s three. Both teams earned three corner kicks.
Newhouse finished with two saves in her second career start and now shows a 2-0 record on the season. The Blue Devils’ EJ Proctor made three of the team’s four saves.
Great win against Duke tonight! So proud of this team and our fight #WVU— Ashley Lawrence (@AshleyLawrence) September 10, 2016
Junior defender Amandine Pierre-Louis broke scoreless play in the 38th minute, connecting on a blast 20-yards out. The Montreal native created her own opportunity, carrying the ball into the middle of the field and past several Blue Devil defenders. Proctor got her hands on the high shot but was unable to hold on to it, as it slipped out and fell behind the goal line.
WVU quickly built on its lead in the second half off a second far-range shot, this time from Abam. After stealing the ball from a Duke defender in front of the Mountaineer bench, the Houston native took two steps into the field before taking a blast from 32-yards out that floated high above the outstretched hands of Proctor and toward the far left pocket.
Duke cut WVU’s lead to one goal in the 66th minute, as Ashton Miller got her head on a free kick from Olivia Erlbeck right in front Newhouse.
The Mountaineers made the most of their first corner kick of the night in the 13th minute, as the set piece resulted in four shots. The series began with a long shot from senior Ashley Lawrence which was saved by Proctor. Classmate Kadeisha Buchanan pounced on the rebound, but her shot was kicked away from the goal line by Duke defenders. The rebound bounced back into the box and landed at the feet of junior Alli Magaletta, but the midfielder’s immediate shot was blocked. The flurry of shots concluded with a long attempt from Pierre-Louis, but it sailed over the crossbar and out of play.
One minute later, junior Heather Kaleiohi carried the ball into the box and created a long-shot opportunity, but Proctor was there for the save. Just 15 minutes into the match, the Mountaineer attack had already forced Duke into a season-high three saves.
Though the Blue Devils managed just one shot in the half, the chance looked lethal, as Kayla McCoy connected her head to the ball right in front of the net in the 24th minute, but the shot curved away at the right post.
Abam and Pierre-Louis paced the field with two shots on-goal each.
Of note, four yellow cards were issued tonight, including one each to both benches.
The Mountaineers return to Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium on Friday, Sept. 16, for a 7 p.m. match against Princeton.