MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 7-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team opened spring, regular-season play with a 3-1 win over Saint Joseph’s on Sunday afternoon at Sweeney Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Junior forward Alina Stahl scored a pair of goals to lead the Mountaineers in the victory, while sophomore forward/defender Julianne Vallerand was credited with the game-winning goal. WVU held control throughout the contest, outshooting the Hawks, 22-3, including 15-2 in shots on goal.
“I was pleased that we were creating chances,” WVU coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “Obviously, you always want to finish those chances, but at the end of the day, for us to finish three with this being our opening game of the spring, I thought was part of some of the things we did well.”
West Virginia (8-2) wasted no time opening its spring campaign with a goal. Stahl netted her first of the day in the 10th minute, following a long run at the goal. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native dribbled by a challenging SJU keeper for an easy opening goal. Junior midfielder Isabella Sibley and freshman midfielder Lilly McCarthy earned assists on the play.
Later, the Mountaineers added to their lead with Vallerand’s goal in the 20th minute. Following a service from senior midfielder Stefany Ferrer-vanGinkel, Vallerand found the back post off a deflection to make it 2-0. Along with Ferrer-vanGinkel, redshirt junior forward Lauren Segalla also tallied an assist on the score.
WVU limited Saint Joseph’s to just one shot in the opening 45 minutes and returned to the locker room with a two-goal advantage.
St. Joe’s (1-3-1) cut into the Mountaineer lead just moments into the second half with a goal to make it 2-1. WVU responded right away, though, tallying its third goal of the day less than a minute later. That’s when Stahl completed her brace in the 47th minute, scoring on an empty net following several shot attempts in front of the goal. It marked WVU’s third multi-goal performance of the 2020-21 season, as well as Stahl’s third career two-goal performance.
Still, the Mountaineers’ offensive attack kept up. WVU tried to add to its lead with close shot attempts by McCarthy in the 56th minute and Sibley in the 57th. Then, Ferrer-vanGinkel registered a pair of shots on goal in the 59th and 64th minute, respectively.
Additionally, Segalla nearly scored in front of the goal in the 68th minute, resulting in another save, before freshman midfielder Maya Ladhani, who made her WVU debut on Sunday, had a good look blocked in the 79th minute.
The Hawks tallied 12 total saves in the fixture, denying the Mountaineers from even more scoring. Eight different players registered multiple shot attempts for WVU, led by McCarthy, who created five shots and four shots on goal.
In goal, sophomore goalkeeper Kayza Massey saw just three shots and recorded one save in the win.
“We know that we still have to have a lot of growth before we see Duke (on March 27),” Izzo-Brown said. “We’re going to continue to develop and get ready, and we’re just really excited to get better and make sure we’re developing along the way in this unusual season.”
Sunday marked the first-ever meeting between the Mountaineers and Hawks. With the win, WVU improved to 21-1-3 all-time against Atlantic 10 opponents.
The Mountaineers improved to 50-1 in their last 51 matches when scoring twice or more. The squad also improved to 58-9-5 in road games since 2014.
Next up, WVU returns to exhibition play with a matchup against Racing Louisville FC of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) on Saturday, March 13, in Louisville, Kentucky. The team is set to play host to No. 5 Duke in its spring, home opener on March 27, at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. ET.