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WVU women earn 20th straight NCAA Tournament bid; Big 10 Champs Penn State earn 4-seed

Baldwin native Alina Stahl leads WVU women's soccer in scoring - photo courtesy WVU Athletics

West Virginia University women’s soccer team earned a bid to the 2019 NCAA Tournament and will face Georgetown in the first round on Saturday, Nov. 16, at Shaw Field in Washington D.C.

With the selection, the Mountaineers have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 20 consecutive seasons, which is tied for the fifth-longest active streak nationally. West Virginia is 21-19-2 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and has won four straight opening-round matches, dating back to 2015.

“The NCAA selection committee always has a tough job to do,” coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “I’m certainly glad that the committee saw the value in our RPI to give us an at-large bid. This team has stepped up this season. It’s been incredible to watch the journey and how they came together and just how badly they wanted to be the team to get to 20.”

Saturday’s match marks the second time the two teams have met this season after Georgetown earned a 3-0 win over West Virginia on Sept. 15. The Mountaineers hold a 15-6-2 advantage in the series, while the Hoyas narrowly edged WVU, 6-5, on penalty kicks in the only match between the foes in the only meeting in the NCAA Tournament.

Georgetown enters the match with a 13-4-3 this season after falling in the Big East Championship game to No.1-seeded Xavier, 2-0, on Sunday. Fifth-year senior Amanda Carolan leads the Hoyas with 29 points on a team-high 11 goals and seven assists.

Sophomore forward and former Baldwin and Beadling SC standout Alina Stahl paces WVU with 12 points on a team-best five goals and two assists. Freshman forward Julianne Vallerand ranks No. 2 with 11 points (5 G, 1 A), while sophomore forward Lizzie Mayfield shows a team-high four assists.

The WVU backline has posted seven shutouts this season, with six credited to senior goalkeeper Rylee Foster. Foster is third amongst active student-athletes in Division I and second on the school’s career shutouts list with 37.

Thirty-one conferences were granted automatic bids for the 2019 championship, while the remaining 33 teams were selected at-large. The top 16 teams are seeded and conference teams cannot play each other in the first or second rounds. When pairing teams, the committee follows geographic proximity parameters. The top 16 teams will host and all other sites were selected for the first round to create the least number of flights.


No. 4 seed Penn State women’s soccer (15-6-1) will face Stony Brook (14-5-1) in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday, November 15 at 6 p.m. on Jeffrey Field.

Penn State’s Big Ten Tournament title win, which was sealed with an overtime victory over Michigan Sunday, secured its automatic selection for the tournament.

Ranked No. 6 in preseason and at the top of conference projections, the Nittany Lions fell out of the United Soccer Coaches Poll after a disappointing string of midseason losses. They received thirteen votes after a long absence last week. A nine-game winning streak that continued through Sunday’s final propelled them to a Big Ten title and a comfortable seed in its bracket in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Penn State’s path to the College Cup is full of capable opponents. The Nittany Lions find themselves in the same corner as Stanford, who closed the regular season at No. 2 in the coaches poll and defeated Penn State at Jeffrey Field in August. A potential run-in with No. 6 Arkansas in the latter rounds could also prove a difficult test.

But since an overtime loss to Rutgers in October, the Nittany Lions seem to have found their identity and rhythm as a team. The attacking emergence of Payton Linnehan, combined with a steady backline lead by veteran defender Kaleigh Riehl that has allowed two goals in its last five games, have made a memorable tournament run possible once again.

First-round games will be played Nov. 15, 16 and 17 at campus sites. Second-round games will be played Friday, Nov. 22, at campus sites and third-round games will be played Sunday, Nov. 24, at the same campus sites. Quarterfinal games will be played Nov. 29 or 30 also on campus sites.

The 40th annual NCAA Women’s College Cup will be played Dec. 6 and 8 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California. The first national semifinal will be played at 7 p.m. ET Friday, Dec. 6, and the second semifinal will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET live. The national championship match will take place at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 8.

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).

PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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