6th-ranked West Virginia women’s soccer will be in Morgantown hosting No. 11 Kansas for their home finale. Action kicks off Friday at 7 p.m. ET at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, and it will be shown on ESPN+.
Friday’s contest will be West Virginia’s annual Pink Match for breast cancer awareness. WVU will don their Pink alternate jerseys to support the fight against the disease, a cause which is very important to everyone in the Mountaineer program.
“[Coach Nikki Izzo-Brown] started raising money years ago. She had a family member that was affected by it, which made her want to start this tradition of always giving back too,” said assistant coach Lisa Stoia. “…At the end of the day, we show up and we play a game every day but there are bigger life factors out there as well outside of it, so this is extremely important I think to our program.”
Over the last 15 years, the Mountaineers have raised over $150,000 for the Betty Puskar Breast Care Center. Fans will be in attendance for the first time this season, and they are also encouraged to wear pink to show support.
The stadium will be filled at 25 percent capacity — but the fans in attendance will be treated to one of the top clashes in the Big 12 Conference this season.
“It’s going to be a great matchup,” WVU coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “We have two of the top teams in the nation kicking off, and both teams still have a championship at stake. It’ll be a hard-fought battle and it’s an opportunity to win a big one at home.”
West Virginia (6-1) is fighting for the first place spot in the conference, sitting just one point behind No. 4 TCU, while Kansas (4-2) is currently seven points back in fourth place.
Stefany Ferrer-vanGinkel has been the lone senior on the squad, and her experience has made her the leader both on the field and the stats sheet. Her four goals not only tops her squad’s scoring list, but that of the Big 12 Conference.
“She’s all in. There are a couple things that we tweaked [from last year], and the one thing we always say, we tease her because we always say she’s not listening,” said Stoia, a former standout attacking midfielder at West Virginia herself. “But she listens….I think also being a senior, she’s been through it. She’s the most experienced out there, and there’s no stopping her right now.”
The defending Big 12 champion Jayhawks present a unique challenge for the Mountaineers. One of the few college teams that plays a five-back defensive line, they allow fewer than one goal every contest. Peculiarly enough, every one of their games — win or loss — has been a clean sheet, with each of their victories coming at a 1-0 scoreline.
“They play a different type of system, they are very well-coached, they’re very well-organized and they play a five-back system so it’s understanding how to break that down,” Stoia explained. “Everything’s been tight. They don’t give up a lot of goals…that’s something to their credit that we’ve been training to this week.”
The match kicks off at 7 p.m. ET at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. For fans that won’t make the trek to the stadium, the action will be shown on ESPN+.