WASHINGTON, D.C. – A quick goal from All-American Michaela Abam and seven saves by Rylee Foster pushed the top-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team to a 1-0 win at No. 5 Georgetown in the squads’ 2017 season opener.
The Mountaineers (1-0) battled heat, humidity and a strong Hoya offensive push for 90 minutes before walking away from Shaw Field with their first win of the year.
WVU’s victory, its first against GU (0-1) since defeating the Hoyas 5-1 in Morgantown on Nov. 4, 2011, pushed its two-year record against top-10 opponents to 5-2. The squad is 18-13-3 all-time against top-10 foes.
“The circumstances here and the adversity with this heat was incredible,” Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “For us to get on them early and finish this game just really shows how resilient this team is. I talked to them about being warriors – and it was hard to find energy in this game – but they really emptied the tank and found what they needed today to win.
“These conditions were horrible, but both teams had to play in it. No excuses and no buts. We found a way to win.”
Abam’s goal was the result of great patience by the Mountaineer attack. After working the ball into play off the team’s first corner kick of the season, WVU pushed it around the box before junior forward Sh’Nia Gordon gathered it wide right. She quickly sent a perfectly placed cross near the far-left post, where the senior forward met it mid-jump before directing it behind GU’s Ariell Schechtman.
“It was an incredible service from Nia, and Mic’s timing was impeccable,” Izzo-Brown said. “To beat a goalkeeper like Georgetown’s was just spot-on. I’m real proud of the way Mic performed today; finishing that opportunity was huge.”
Abam’s goal, the 33rd of her career, pushes her into a three-way tie with Kate Schwindel (2011-14) and Black Miller (2008-11) for No. 6 all-time in program history. The Houston native’s career point total moves to 79 (33 G, 13 A), and she continues to rank ninth in program history.
WVU used its key score to overcome GU’s statistical edge, as the Hoyas finished with a 13-7 upper hand in shots and a 7-4 advantage in shots on-goal.
Foster had a strong day in net, turning away all seven Hoya chances, including five in the first half, for her second-best single-game showing in a Mountaineer uniform. The sophomore stood tallest in the final 10 minutes of the first half, turning away three straight looks from GU freshman forward Jenna Menta.
The first of the three stops came in the 38th minute, as Foster pushed a shot from Menta away from the left post and back into the box. The Mountaineer defense promptly cleared.
Less than a minute later, Foster stopped a shot from Menta from seven yards out. She followed that with a great catching save at the right post after Menta broke away from the pack and took a shot in-stride just inside the box.
Foster’s clean sheet is the ninth of her young career.
Prior to the three key stops, junior defender came through in the 24th minute, clearing a shot from Hoya All-American Rachel Corboz off the right post. The ball bounced back into the box, and Caitlin Farrell took an immediate close-range shot, but the WVU defensive wall blocked it away.
Senior forward Heather Kaleiohi led the second-half offensive push, tallying two shots on-goal. The San Diego native looked most dangerous late, shooting the ball through a crowd from 16-yards out before Schechtman sprawled out along the line for her fourth stop of the match.
Farrell paced the field with six shots, three on-goal, and Abam finished with a team-best three shots. The WVU defense held Corboz to just two looks.
GU finished with a 9-4 edge in corner kicks.
With the win, WVU improves to 15-4-2 all-time against GU and 10-9-3 in season openers.
Of note, today’s kick was pushed up three hours due to the threat of inclement weather in the area.