Penalty shootout ends WVU women’s soccer’s Big 12 Championship run

Gold and Blue Nation

The West Virginia University women’s soccer team played to a 0-0, double overtime draw with Texas on Thursday night, but had its Big 12 Championship run cut short after the Longhorns advanced in a 4-3 penalty kick shootout during semifinal action at Round Rock Multipurpose Complex in Round Rock, Texas.

The Mountaineers (10-5-5) and Longhorns played another even matchup, with the two teams’ goalkeepers and back lines battling to keep the game scoreless. With neither team able to find the back of the net through 110 minutes of play, a penalty kick shootout ensued, with UT eventually emerging as the team that would advance to the finals.

“I thought in the second half we really came out and created some good looks and opportunities,” WVU coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “It’s disappointing that we weren’t able to win it in regulation, but I’m proud of the effort we put forth in this tournament to get this far.”

Junior goalkeeper Kayza Massey was tested right off the bat, as the UT offense placed an early shot in the bottom left of the net in the second minute, but the Ottawa, Ontario, native was there to make the diving stop. The Mountaineers’ first shot on frame came off the boot of freshman forward Dilary Heredia-Beltran just before the 10-minute mark, but it also was saved. WVU’s first big chance of the half came off a free kick just outside the top of the box, but the offense couldn’t find the finish and the teams played on.

From there, the Longhorns seemed to be in control of the match as they earned chance after chance in WVU’s defensive third. The Texas offense continued to test Massey, forcing her two make two more big saves to keep the contest scoreless at the break.

In the early going of the second half, it looked like Texas was going to continue to dominate the possession, with a trio of early opportunities. However, the Mountaineer offense soon took over, creating their own number of well-played chances. The first came in the 63rd minute from senior midfielder Isabella Sibley, who took a shot from just outside the box that looked like it was headed straight for the net but sailed just wide at the last second. Junior forward/defender Julianne Vallerand then mimicked the Sibley chance with another off-target shot that had some promise.

Just after Vallerand’s shot, Heredia-Beltran got possession once again and sent a rocket toward the bottom-right corner that required a diving save from UT keeper Savannah Madden to keep it out of the back of the net. In the waning minutes of regulation, Texas was dangerous with possession in its final third, but the WVU defense managed to play keep-away to send the match to OT.

The WVU offense started early in the first overtime, as senior forward Lauren Segalla served a perfect ball to Heredia-Beltran, but her ensuing shot was saved. Minutes later, Texas had a nearly open look at goal but was whistled offsides, sending the match to a second OT. The next overtime period was all Texas, as its offensive attack forced Massey and the WVU defense to fend off several opportunities. The Mountaineers placed a pair of final desperation attempts on frame, but they were saved by Madden for the penalty kick shootout.

The penalty shootout ended 4-3 in favor of Texas, sending the Longhorns to the Big 12 Championship Final. West Virginia’s PK lineup saw makes from senior defender Jordan Brewster, junior defender Gabrielle Robinson and senior goalkeeper Maddie Murphy, while junior midfielder Juliana Lynch and Heredia-Beltran missed their attempts.

In the final stats, West Virginia edged Texas 15-14 in shots, along with 8-6 in shots on goal, while the Mountaineers earned six corner-kick opportunities to the Longhorns’ two. Massey made six saves in the contest, one shy of her career-high total that she set against Texas earlier this season. Heredia-Beltran led the Mountaineer attack with five shots, placing three on goal.

With the draw, WVU’s all-time advantage over the Longhorns moves to 9-2-3, while the Mountaineers are 1-0-2 against Texas in Big 12 Championship meetings. Additionally, West Virginia is now 14-3-3 all-time in Big 12 Championship action.

The Mountaineers now await their fate in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, with selection day set for Monday, Nov. 8, at 4: 30 p.m. ET, on West Virginia has qualified for each of the last 21 tournaments, good for the fourth-longest streak in the country.

For more information on the Mountaineers, follow @WVUWomensSoccer on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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