MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Nikki Izzo-Brown learned some valuable things about her squad in their first two matches of the season.
The 26th year head coach of Mountaineer women’s soccer oversaw a 4-0 victory against Buffalo Thursday, then a 1-0 loss to No. 4 Virginia Sunday. In both of those matches, she noticed a theme: the No. 12 Mountaineers played good soccer at times, but they didn’t produce complete performances.
Izzo-Brown said it seemed like her team switched off and on against Buffalo, even though the Mountaineers dominated that match. Then, against one of the top teams in the country, they played well in spurts, but didn’t do enough to get back into the match after falling behind early.
As the Mountaineers look ahead to a road test Friday against Bucknell and another home match Sunday against Duquesne, Izzo-Brown wants to see more consistency.
“Every coach is hunting consistency, and you know, we’re hunting consistency in your job,” Izzo-Brown said. “I think what we wanna do is make sure everybody really has a clear-cut understanding and focus on what they need to do to complete a 90-minute game.”
But that match against Virginia did give the Mountaineers a more clear understanding of what it will take to compete with top teams this season — a luxury they didn’t have last fall when they were forced to play a conference-only schedule.
“Obviously, we respect Virginia a lot, and I know that they created their opportunities because they’re a top-four program,” Izzo-Brown said. “For me, having that type of pressure this early, we just now have to get better from it. We felt that a lot of the things that Virginia were able to do was just something that we haven’t been able to address, and now need to address, in order to get to their level.”
There were some things worth celebrating during that Virginia game, though. More than 1,400 attended that top-12 showdown at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, the largest crowd for a WVU women’s soccer home match since 1,812 fans watched a 2-0 win over Iowa State on Sept. 27, 2019.
Izzo-Brown said that crowd was “enthusiastic” and made a difference, even though WVU didn’t come away with a victory. She’s looking forward to more big crowds this fall as WVU venues operate at full capacity for sporting events.
“That’s one thing that I love about being a coach here: the fans. For me, and I know the team, to get that back meant everything to us, so it’s awesome,” Izzo-Brown said.
Friday’s match against Bucknell kicks off at 7 p.m. in Lewisburg, Pa.