From West Virginia University report / Shannon Wolfgang
Senior forward Hannah Abraham (Albert Gallatin) stepped into the role of hero tonight, as she headed home the game-winning goal in the 87th minute to push the No. 16-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory at Oklahoma State at Neal Patterson Stadium.
It was Abraham’s eight game-winning tally in her four-year career at West Virginia, with her last coming on September 7, in a win at Clemson.
Knotted in a 1-1 draw late after a pair of penalty kicks in the first half, Abraham tallied her second goal of the season off a fantastic service from senior midfielder Nadya Gill. Off a throw-in, Gill sent a lofting cross into the box. Seated near the penalty line, Abraham out-jumped her defender and sent her header toward the near-left post, out of the reach of OSU goalkeeper Hannah Warner.
Tonight’s second half, game-winning score is WVU’s sixth of the season and the Mountaineers’ latest game-winner of the year.
The win is the Mountaineers’ (10-3-3, 6-1) third straight and 10th of the season, marking the 19th consecutive season coach Nikki Izzo-Brown has led WVU to 10-plus wins.
“It was just a relentless, iron will tonight – they just kept going, going and going,” Izzo-Brown said. “This was a huge, huge emotional game for us. You could tell that this team wanted to win tonight. We keep jumping on our seniors’ backs – they were pushing, pushing and pushing. This is huge.
“If you watched the first half, we were definitely knocking. The second half was a whole other level of ball movement and getting the ball into the back of the net. You could tell it was going to happen. It was a total team effort tonight.”
WVU owns a three-match win streak and has won nine of its last 10 matches. Tonight’s victory is the Mountaineers’ ninth consecutive over the Cowgirls (10-5-1, 2-4-1); OSU has never defeated WVU.
Senior defender Bianca St. Georges broke through first, connecting on her third penalty kick of the season to put WVU ahead 1-0 in the 20th minute. The goal was the Mountaineers’ second-fastest of the season.
St. Georges earned the chance following a foul on senior Sh’Nia Gordon near the goal box. Classmate Hannah Abraham fed Gordon the ball, and the forward quickly drove toward the left post. OSU defender Elise Hawn hip-checked Gordon trying to halt her drive, and St. Georges stepped to the line for her fourth goal of the season.
The Cowgirls evened the line with 3:30 remaining in the half. Backed inside the box defending OSU’s first corner kick of the match, junior forward Jade Gentile’s momentum took her into the back of defender Kirsten Siragusa, drawing the foul. Midfielder Kim Rodriguez converted the penalty kick, and the teams entered halftime knotted at 1-1.
The goal is only the third allowed by the Mountaineers in Big 12 play this season.
WVU finished with a 33-3 edge in shots; the output matched the Mountaineers’ season high, first tallied in a 2-0 win over Saint Francis (Pa.) on Sept. 16. Nine of WVU’s shots were placed on-goal, with OSU goalkeepers Warner and Dani Greenlee making three saves each.
St. Georges paced the field with a career, single-game high seven shots, placing three on-goal.
Junior Rylee Foster made one second-half save for the Mountaineers, who also finished with a 7-1 edge in corner kicks.
Senior midfielder Grace Cutler started the Mountaineers’ chances tonight, earning the first shot in the sixth minute. Greenlee, who started the match for OSU, made the catching save at the line.
Seven minutes later, St. Georges earned a quality look off the Mountaineers’ first corner kick. With the ball high, she ripped a shot that sailed toward the frame but was punched out by Greenlee.
St. Georges came calling again early in the second half. After beating multiple defenders, she took a shot inside the box that bounced over a sprawled-out Warner, who started the second half. The ball floated through the box and toward an empty net. Just before the ball could sneak over the goal line, OSU defender Elise Hawn cleared it off the line.
Foster’s lone stop of the match came in the 68th minute, an easy catch on a long shot by Rachel VanFossen.
The Mountaineers nearly broke the tie with three consecutive chances with less than 20 minutes remaining. The first was an exceptional shot by sophomore midfielder Stefany Ferrer-vanGinkel, but her running chance high of the box smacked off the right post.
Three minutes later, St. Georges sent a low, curving shot toward the right post, but Warner was there for the stop. One minute later, St. Georges’ free kick just above the box curved away from the crossbar.
The Mountaineers stay in Oklahoma and travel to Norman for a match against the Oklahoma University Sooners on Sunday, Oct. 21, at 2 p.m. EST.