WVU women’s soccer trounces Saint Francis

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Behind 13 shots on goal, the No.18-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team cruised to a 5-0 win over Saint Francis (Pa.) at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium on Sunday afternoon in Morgantown.

Wrapping up a four-game homestand, the Mountaineers (4-2-1) found the back of the net four times in the first half before putting the icing on the cake with one tally in the second. Junior forward/defender Julianne Vallerand buried the game-winning header at the 22:27 mark off a corner kick from senior defender Jordan Brewster. From there, WVU added on goals from senior forward Lauren Segalla, senior midfielder Isabella Sibley, freshman midfielder Leah Sparacio and freshman forward Dilary Heredia Beltran.

Vallerand’s goal was her third of the season while Sibley and Segalla each added their second tallies of the campaign. Sparacio and Heredia-Beltran recorded their first collegiate goals for the Mountaineers on Sunday. Also of note, Vallerand’s game winner was her second of the year.

“It felt great to finally put the ball in the back of the net,” West Virginia coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “I thought the tempo of the game was good, and we moved the ball well. We’ve been struggling to finish recently. We’ve been creating those chances, and now we’re finishing those chances we’ve created, which is very important.”

The Mountaineer offense showed its dominance over the Red Flash early, as Vallerand and Heredia-Beltran tallied a pair of shots apiece before the 15-minute mark. On WVU’s third corner kick opportunity of the afternoon, Brewster sent the ball inside the box and found the head of Vallerand, who tapped it in for the score at the 22:27 mark. From there, West Virginia didn’t waste much time before securing its second goal of the match in the 24th minute. Freshman defender Lisa Schöppl passed the ball to Sibley just above the touch line, inside the 6-yard box. Sibley’s backwards pass found Segalla, who backheeled it into the net to give WVU a 2-0 advantage.

West Virginia used more expert passing to add on to its lead with just under 10 minutes to go before halftime. From the wing, junior midfielder Aaliyah Scott found sophomore forward/midfielder AJ Rodriguez inside the box. Rodriguez tried to square up for a shot attempt of her own, but a Red Flash defender got in the way. Instead, she sent a cross to Sibley, who was able to convert for the goal.

The Mountaineers’ stellar first-half showing wasn’t over yet, however, as a pair of freshmen got in on the action before the first 45 minutes expired. Freshman forward Rhea Kijowski delivered a ball to Sparacio, who out-dribbled the Saint Francis (Pa.) back line and sent an easy shot from the middle of the box over the SFU keeper, giving WVU a 4-0 lead at the half.

Out of the break, Vallerand sent a cross inside the 18-yard box, and Heredia-Beltran got a foot on it to bounce it past the goalie and into the net at the 58:56 mark. The Wichita, Kansas, native put an exclamation point on WVU’s impressive offensive showing with her first collegiate goal.

West Virginia dominated the final box score, tallying 31 shots and placing 13 of those on goal. The Mountaineers created 16 corner-kick opportunities on the afternoon, tying the most in a single game this season. The West Virginia defense didn’t allow a single SFU shot, shot on goal or corner kick, recording the first time the squad has held a team to no shots since August 23, 2019, against Duquesne. Junior goalkeeper Kayza Massey and senior keeper Maddie Murphy split WVU’s net-minding duties for the afternoon, as West Virginia notched its fourth clean sheet of the season. For SFU, goalie Emma Sawich made seven saves.

Vallerand led the offense with nine shots in the match, the most for a WVU player since Michaela Abam also recorded nine shots against Texas Tech on October 19, 2017. As a team, West Virginia recorded 30 or more shots for the first time since September 20, 2019, tallying 32 against Fairleigh Dickinson. Additionally, the Mountaineers’ five goals on Sunday marked the most scored in a single game since the team notched six goals against Stony Brook on Sept. 13, 2019.

Next up, the Mountaineers travel to Harrisonburg, Virginia, for just their second road contest of the season, as they take on James Madison on Thursday, Sept. 16. Kickoff against the Dukes is tabbed for 7 p.m. ET, at Sentara Park.

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