Mountaineers suffer setback against TCU

Gold and Blue Nation

The No. 21-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team fell, 1-0, to No. 11 TCU in a hard-fought battle at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown on Thursday night.

In their fourth top-25 matchup at home this season, the Mountaineers (8-4-2, 2-2-1 Big 12) played level with the Horned Frogs for much of the match, outshooting TCU 8-6, including tallying four strikes on goal to the Horned Frogs’ two. However, TCU was able to find the finish on a corner-kick opportunity in the 77th minute, and West Virginia wasn’t able to add an equalizer in the final minutes.

“I truly thought we played well-enough to win tonight,” Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t finish our chances though. The difference tonight was that TCU finished. To be honest with you, if you look at the numbers, we came out on top except for finishing. It was an evenly matched game and we just needed to finish our chances.”

The match began as a defensive battle, with neither team tallying a shot until junior defender Gabrielle Robinson added the first in the 20th minute. Freshman forward Dilary Heredia-Beltran fired one on frame at the 27:27 mark, but the TCU keeper made a routine save and the match went on. West Virginia added two more quality looks in the first half, one a shot on goal off the boot of sophomore midfielder Chloe Adler and the other a strong shot from sophomore midfielder Lilly McCarthy that was just barely high and went off the crossbar, but neither found the back of the net. The WVU defense held the Horned Frogs to zero shots on frame in the first 45 minutes, and the match remained scoreless at the half.

Out of the intermission, the Mountaineer offense began knocking on the door, as Heredia-Beltran added two more shots to start the half, placing one on goal. Midway through the period, though, the momentum shifted toward the visitors when TCU tallied its first shot on frame, as well as a pair of corner-kick opportunities. On the second corner kick, TCU capitalized on junior goalkeeper Kayza Massey’s miscue, with the Horned Frogs’ Oli Pena getting a foot on a loose ball in the box for the go-ahead score.

From there, WVU played catch-up, while the Horned Frogs played keep away in an attempt to secure their win. The Mountaineers earned a promising opportunity in the 80th minute when TCU was whistled for a foul, and WVU took the ensuing free kick from just above the 18-yard box. Senior defender Jordan Brewster sent the ball inside, but her pass was booted away by TCU, and the Horned Frogs walked away with the victory.

The final box score showed a very even matchup, with WVU taking an 8-6 advantage in shots, along with a 4-2 edge in shots on goal. TCU earned four corner kicks on the night, while West Virginia tallied three. Heredia-Beltran led WVU’s offensive efforts, recording a trio of shots in the setback.

With the loss, WVU’s all-time lead in the series drops to 9-3-2, while the Horned Frogs picked up their first-ever win in Morgantown. The loss marks the Mountaineers’ first to a ranked foe since falling 2-0 to then-No. 7 Penn State on Sept. 2.

Also of note, sophomore forward/midfielder AJ Rodriguez earned her first starting nod of the season against TCU, while freshmen defenders Annika Leslie and Lisa Schöppl earned just their second career starts on Thursday.

Next up, West Virginia continues its two-game homestand, hosting Texas Tech on Sunday, Oct. 17. Kickoff at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium is slated for 1 p.m. ET. The contest is the Mountaineers’ annual Pink Match, with proceeds from the match benefitting the WVU Cancer Institute.

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