Nikki Izzo-Brown is notorious for building a difficult non-conference schedule to start the season off so her team can get a challenge.
Often, the Mountaineers persevere and get some key wins for their record and confidence as they prepare for conference play. Some years, though, the Mountaineers are handed some difficult losses early in the year.
While the Mountaineers hold steady in the national poll, 2021 has still turned out to be the latter option, but they still have the chance to recoup when they host No. 24 Georgetown, a truly familiar foe going back to the program’s days in the Big East. Kickoff between the two programs is set for Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.
“It’s just a really strong opponent that we think both programs will see a lot out of, and it’s going to be a great game,” said WVU coach Nikki Izzo-Brown.
Historically speaking, this is quite the favorable matchup for the No. 18 Mountaineers, as they’ve notched the most wins against the Hoyas out of all their opponents. That stat has been tested in recent years, however, as the Hoyas have won three of the last five matchups. Regardless, it will take the Hoyas quite a bit of time to break into the all-time series, which stands 16-6-2 in favor of the Mountaineers.
West Virginia is coming into this ranked clash hungry for a goal after getting blanked by both No. 4 Virginia and No. 7 Penn State. Scoring won’t come easy against the unbeaten Hoyas, who allow less than a goal per game.
“We created a lot of chances at Penn State, we were disappointed that we were unable to convert those chances, so I think we realized as a team that we’re creating great chances, and now it’s about finishing,” Izzo-Brown said. “We know that Georgetown is a high-scoring team, and they don’t give up a lot of goals so we really have to be laser-focused and make sure that we are mentally ready for a tough opponent and don’t make that mental mistake, but also finish.”
WVU’s attack is spearheaded by Julianne Vallerand, who has started at the striker position and leads the team with two goals in five starts on the season. As a whole, the team has had some trouble finishing their chances, but their offense has come by committee as their 10 goals have come from nine different scorers.
West Virginia will have a challenge in facing the battle-hardened Hoyas, who are unbeaten through five matches, including three draws. That means the squad has played 60 extra minutes of competition, and are now especially hungry to get that desired result at the end of 90 minutes.
“They definitely have more experience and more minutes, so I think they’ve learned how to get a result in overtime, so I would look to that and say that they’ve had some success there,” “Any time you have a group of girls together, [Georgetown coach] Dave [Nolan] is going to realize what his team is capable of or uncapable of.”
Kickoff between the No. 18 Mountaineers and the No. 24 Hoyas is set for Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+.