West Virginia women’s soccer more than made up for its attacking woes on Sunday when it took down Saint Joseph’s 5-1, and the squad wants to keep that momentum going when it hits the road for the first time on Thursday.
WVU (1-0-1) kicks off against No. 10 Penn State (1-0-1), its first ranked opponent of the season, at 4 p.m. ET at the Nittany Lions’ Jeffrey Field. PSU is a familiar opponent for the Mountaineers, with the two programs set to meet for the 21st time.
“We know it’s going to be a huge test for us,” said WVU coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “Obviously there’s always that geographical rivalry between the two programs, so we’re expecting to walk into the lion’s den literally on Thursday and we’re going to be tested.”
West Virginia’s goal bonanza on Sunday was a big improvement after the squad’s scoreless season opener. While much of the team’s starting 11 returned (including key pieces like center-back Jordan Brewster and winger Lauren Segalla), the Mountaineers were slow to build their chemistry at the beginning of the season.
That seemed to change against St. Joe’s, as WVU put five goals in the net to take its first win of the season. Finishing, obviously, was a point of emphasis for the team before its second game, but Izzo-Brown saw plenty of other marked improvements as well.
“We worked a lot Friday, I thought we got in better spaces that allowed us to create better chances, so I thought our movement was better and the areas we were putting ourselves in was better,” Izzo-Brown said. “I thought we needed to read the game quicker and play the speed of play a little bit quicker, and I thought we did a better job of that on Sunday.”
That extra space allowed some of WVU’s new starters, like transfer full-back Maddie Moreau and freshman striker Emily Thompson, to find the net for the first time in Old Gold and Blue.
Penn State awaits WVU with a nearly identical record so far, opening the season with a draw followed by a victory. The Nittany Lions, however, earned their draw against No. 19 Georgetown, which means they have already taken a major test early in their campaign.
WVU aims for its first victory over Penn State since 2017 after losing three of its last four meetings with the Nittany Lions. In fact, the Mountaineers haven’t earned a win in Happy Valley since 2007.
The last meeting between the programs occurred in 2021 as Penn State earned a 2-0 victory over West Virginia.
“We know that they are so dynamic in the final third, and then they just picked up a transfer out of USC (Penelope Hocking) that’s an All-American forward, so she’s already proven herself,” Izzo-Brown said. “They’re always putting goals on their opposition, so we know how dynamic they are. We’re definitely going to look at that piece and what they were able to do to us last year for sure.”
WVU women’s soccer at No. 10 Penn State game information
- Date: Aug. 25, 2022
- Time: 4 p.m. ET
- Location: Jeffrey Field in University Park, Pennsylvania
- TV: Big Ten Network
- Stream: FOX Sports
- WVU record: 1-0-1
- Penn State record: 1-0-1
- Series history: Penn State leads 10-7 (3 draws)
- Last meeting: No. 7 Penn State 2, No. 13 WVU 0 in Morgantown, West Virginia (2021)