MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University women’s soccer team earned its first victory of the season with a dominating, 5-1 win over Saint Joseph’s at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium on Sunday afternoon in Morgantown.
Five different Mountaineers found the back of the net on Sunday, including three first-time goal scorers. Despite struggling to find the connection up until the last few minutes of the first half, West Virginia (1-0-1, 0-0 Big 12) found its offensive spark in the second. The squad scored four goals in the second period, including a pair of back-to-back strikes in the first five minutes of the frame.
Senior midfielder/defender Maddie Moreau, junior midfielder Chloe Adler and freshman forward Emily Thompson scored the first goals of the Mountaineer careers on Sunday, while junior midfielder AJ Rodriguez and sophomore forward Rhea Kijowski also found the back of the net.
While West Virginia’s offense eventually found its rhythm, it took nearly 40 minutes of the first half to find the team’s first goal of the campaign. After a slew of missed chances, Kijowski eventually gave the Mountaineers the spark they needed in the 39th minute. Sophomore forward Aria Bilal brought the ball up the right side and served a beautiful pass to Kijowski, whose quick touch went right through the legs of the keeper and into the net.
The score stood at 1-0 going into halftime, but WVU began to add on just two minutes into the second half. The Mountaineers took a corner kick in the 47th minute, and senior midfielder Maya McCutcheon’s ensuing volley was saved by the SJU defense. However, Moreau was there to strike on the rebound and give WVU the 2-0 edge. The Hawks cut into the lead just 30 seconds later with a penalty kick goal after goalkeeper Kayza Massey was whistled for a foul in the box.
It didn’t take West Virginia’s attack long to respond, as Thompson scored her first career goal just a minute later. Sophomore forward Dilary Heredia-Beltran dribbled into box and fed a pass into Thompson, who squared up and sent the ball above the reach of the SJU goalie.
From there, WVU didn’t back down, as Heredia-Beltran earned her second assist on the afternoon, sending a long ball into Rodriguez, who was just above the top of the 18-yard box. Rodriguez dribbled in, eyed the keeper and knocked it in for her first score of the year. Then Adler was called on to put the icing on the cake, taking a successful penalty kick in the 79th minute to notch the first goal of her career.
West Virginia’s dominance showed in the final stats, as it outshot Saint Joseph’s 24-5, including a 16-5 edge in shots on goal. The Mountaineers also took five corner kicks on the afternoon, compared to just one for the Hawks. SJU keeper Katie Cappellitti recorded 11 saves, while Massey was called on to make four stops.
Of note, WVU’s 16 shots on goal are the most for the squad since the last time it played Saint Joseph’s, tallying 15 at SJU on March 7, 2021. WVU now moves to 2-0 all-time against the Hawks.
Additionally, a pair of Mountaineers recorded their first career action in a Gold and Blue uniform on Sunday afternoon, as midfielders Iman Mustafa and Natalie Zibinskas took to the pitch for the first time.
The Mountaineers now prepare for their first road trip of the season, as they travel to No. 14 Penn State on Thursday, Aug. 25. Kickoff at Jeffrey Field in University Park, Pennsylvania, is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET.