Game two of West Virginia women’s soccer’s four-game homestand is set to kick off Thursday when the 13th-ranked Mountaineers host No. 7 Penn State at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown. The match is set for 7 p.m. ET and it will be shown on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
WVU (3-1-0) enter the pitch after earning a pair of bounce-back wins over the weekend. Its first came on the road at Bucknell, coming back to win 3-1 after allowing a first half score. The Mountaineers returned to Morgantown on Sunday against Duquesne, blowing the Dukes out for a 3-0 clean sheet.
“I do believe that the team will have some confidence because what they’ve been working on has worked,” said WVU coach Nikki Izzo-Brown.
Things will be different for West Virginia when Penn State (3-0-0) comes to visit, however. Izzo-Brown’s program is no stranger to nationally-ranked matchups, and it already got its taste of one this year when it fell 1-0 to No. 4 Virginia.
“Things get…a little quicker, faster, smaller with windows,” Izzo-Brown said, “so we need to make sure that our speed of play is pretty quick.”
The Nittany Lions will be a test for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week Jordan Brewster and her unit, as they bring one of the top-scoring attacks in the Big Ten Conference. Striker Payton Linnehan leads the unit, scoring five goals already through just three games — leading the league at a 1.667 goal-per-game clip.
Despite its only loss of the season, West Virginia has shown that it can be just as threatening for its opponents. The Mountaineers notch 2.5 goals per game (including its Virginia shutout), and it has gotten scores from nine different players.
The key for WVU, Izzo-Brown says, is preventing those minor mistakes that can cost a game and keeping its play at a high level for all 90 minutes.
“Consistency is everything we’re hunting, I think the team knows that that’s something we’re going to be continually looking at is the consistency of our play that we’re able to keep moving and taking better care of the ball,” she said. “So it’s always a work in progress and any time you have a team, especially early in the season, it’s definitely going to be a focus in training. Every pass is going to boil down to the importance.”
The historical rivalry between the two schools has manifested itself well on the women’s soccer pitch as they gear up for the 20th meeting between the two programs since 2003. Penn State will enter Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium on a three-game unbeaten streak against the Mountaineers, most recently playing WVU to a draw in 2019 in Morgantown.
Besides the proximity of the schools and the animosity of the fans, the women’s soccer edition of the rivalry has nearly always had national implications. Much like Thursday’s clash, 14 of the 19 meetings have seen both Penn State and West Virginia in the national polls, including the last eight meetings between the programs.
Overall, the Nittany Lions lead the series, 7-9-3.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET and it will be shown on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.