West Virginia women’s soccer’s 2022 revenge tour got off to a slow start.
WVU hosted Indiana in a non-conference clash on Thursday to open its season, playing the Hoosiers to a scoreless draw. Despite maintaining control over most of the contest, Nikki Izzo-Brown hoped for a little more out of her squad in the first match of the season.
“Last year, it was the story of my life,” Izzo-Brown said. “I thought Indiana came out with a great game plan, but we didn’t really have urgency until the 70th minute of the game, and I thought we needed to do a better job with that.”
The Mountaineers held 62 percent of the game’s ball possession, most of which was contained to the Hoosiers’ defensive third. WVU turned that into just four shots on target and left two prime chances on the pitch including a breakaway mismatch between WVU’s Taylor White and Chloe Adler and IU goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg that turned into an easy save for the Hoosier.
“At some point, we want Chloe Adler to take that shot. You don’t want to have a give-and-go inside the six,” Izzo-Brown said. “But, you know, she created the opportunity for us, so Coach is happy about that.”
WVU keeper Kayza Massey was relatively unbothered on the other end, parrying just one shot for the Mountaineers.
There was plenty for the Mountaineers to build from in their opening fixture, especially from individual players. Julianne Vallerand started the match at left-back and was active all over the pitch, working to move the ball forward and create chances for her attackers.
Vallerand’s play was especially impressive to her coach.
“I think the way [Indiana was] playing, it really allowed some space on those ends, and she took it really well and had such confidence to get forward and create chances,” Izzo-Brown said. “But absolutely, was she not awesome getting up and down? I’d love to see her mileage tonight.”
WVU also got plenty of dynamic play from its attackers on the wings, namely from Dilary Heredia-Beltran and Lauren Segalla. Izzo-Brown was keen to utilize the duo’s full range of skills, even swapping their sides in the second half in order to create extra chances.
“We [were] trying to get Dilary free a little bit on the right-hand side and Lauren Segalla in the middle just to try to shake it up and try to see a matchup,” “I thought Dilary generated a lot of good things and Aaliyah Scott too.”
The Mountaineers open their season without a win for the first time since 2018 when WVU fell to Penn State on the road to open that campaign. They return to the pitch Sunday when they host Saint Joseph’s for a 1 p.m. kickoff.