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Dukes put up a fight, fall to No. 1 WVU, 3-0

From Duquesne / West Virginia University athletic department reports 

Top-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team scored two second-half goals in a span of two minutes to run away with a 3-0 win against Duquesne this evening at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.

“We came out and battled and did some good things right from the start. But, it’s a tough task to come here and get a result. I’m disappointed in the result, but not disappointed in the performance of the team,” Al Alvine, Duquesne coach said. “It’s a good building block to come out and compete with the team that was in the National Championship game last year and is the No. 1 team in the country this year. It is definitely valuable experience moving forward.”

Three Mountaineers tallied their first goals of the season tonight including Albert Gallitan product, junior forward Hannah Abraham netted the game-winner in the 10th minute, and senior midfielder Carla Portillo and junior defender Bianca St. Georges added insurance goals in the 64th and 66th minutes, respectively. The goal was the first career score for St. Georges.

“We talked about this being the most important game we were going to face after a loss, and I thought the girls did a great job coming out and responding,” Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “This is what we needed. We needed to get some numbers on the board, and we did that, and we got the win.”

Portillo and St. Georges finished with three points each, a single game career-best effort for the duo.

The WVU defense joined in on the fun. After allowing two quick shots to forward Linnea Faccenda in the first 78 seconds, the Mountaineer back line held the Dukes (1-2) to just one additional shot, a first-half attempt by Jorden Thornton.

WVU Sophomore Rylee Foster made one save for her second shutout of the season. The WVU defense did not allow the Dukes a corner kick.

Abraham’s game-winner was prompted by freshman midfielder Grace Smith, who made her first career start this evening. The Bridgnorth, England, native sent a cross through traffic to Abraham. Duquesne’s Kyra Murphy left her line, but Abraham got to the ball first and sent her shot from inside the box toward the left corner.

Though the Mountaineers were held to just two shots on-goal in the first half, the team came out firing in the second.

WVU finally found the insurance score it needed in the 64th minute. St. Georges started the play with a cross into the box. Junior forward Sh’Nia Gordon redirected it in front of the goal line, and Portillo quickly sent a one-timer from just above the penalty line for her ninth career goal.

St. Georges nabbed her first career score 87 seconds later. Portillo’s ball into the box was deflected by a Duke defender right to the feet of St. Georges. She used her inside foot to bury the ball toward the near right post.

“We made some adjustments (at halftime) with our attack,” Izzo-Brown added. “We saw what they were doing, and we knew had to put them away; you don’t want a team like Duquesne to hang around. We definitely came out firing in the second half.”

Today marked the Mountaineers’ first three-goal game since defeating Northern Kentucky, 3-0, in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, on Nov. 12, in Morgantown.

Gordon had the best chance early in the second half, as she found herself in front of the net with the ball. Defended, she took a shot from 10-yards out that almost snuck into the net by the right post before Murphy made a kick save.

Dukes forward Linnea Faccenda pressed the Mountaineer defense in the game’s first two minutes. She took a shot wide left of the box 23 seconds into the match that skimmed the post before going out. Less than a minute later, she took a chance on a Mountaineer turnover, pushing the ball toward the penalty line before taking a contested shot, which Foster easily caught for her lone save.

The Mountaineers finished with a 27-3 edge in shots and forced Murphy into six saves. WVU also earned six corner kicks.

Senior forward Michaela Abam paced the field with nine shots, one short of her career single-game best. St. Georges finished with a match-best two shots on-goal.

With the win, WVU improves to 8-0-2 all-time against Duquesne. 

The Mountaineers stay in Morgantown and face No. 9 Penn State on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m., at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.

Duquesne returns to action with a home game at Rooney Field on Friday, September 1, to take on Illinois State, at 7 p.m.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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