Junior forward Megan Mischler scored her team-leading fifth goal of the season to lead West Virginia to a 1-0 win over Providence and coach Nikki Izzo-Brown’s 200th career victory on Sunday (Oct. 25) at Glay Field in Providence, R.I.
“We knew what we needed to do and the ladies got a nice shutout win,” said Izzo-Brown. “Anytime you hit a milestone, I always think about all the important people that helped me hit the milestone. A coach is nothing without great players and great staffs, and I’m very fortunate to have both.”
Mischler’s goal came at the 19:59 mark on a volley over Providence goalkeeper Jill Schott from eight yards out. Midfielder Carolyn Blank started the play with a service into the middle finding Mischler. Mischler then took two dribbles and put the ball over Schott for the goal.
“I made a slashing run and Carolyn found me on a great pass through the middle,” said Mischler. “I took one touch past the defender and the goalie came out, so I chipped it over her head.”
The Mountaineers came out firing, outshooting the Friars 6-2 in the first half and finished with 12 shots total, while Providence totaled 11.
Mischler led the Mountaineers with three shots, two on goal, while midfielders Tara Ricciardi and Mary Vercollone paced Providence with three shots apiece.
West Virginia’s defensive corps, led by Nicole Mailloux, continued its success and did not allow a Providence shot until the 34th minute.
Several scoring chances developed in the first half for West Virginia, including a Blank header in the 32nd minute. Midfielder Morgan Betscher served a free kick that was headed by Blank and saved by Schott.
After Providence came out with four shots in the first nine minutes of the second half, the West Virginia defense continued to make big plays to preserve the shutout for goalkeeper Kerri Butler.
Butler’s best save of the day came in the 51st minute when she made a diving save to stop Ricciardi’s shot off a rebound from a corner kick. Butler finished the weekend with two shutouts and 15 saves.
This was the Butler’s sixth shutout in the last seven matches, and the Mountaineers have allowed only two goals in the last 670 minutes of play.
In the 69th minute, Mischler nearly recorded her second goal of the game on a shot from the top of 18-yard box, however Schott made a great punch save over the crossbar.
Forward Blake Miller then carved up two Providence defenders in the 72nd minute, dribbling the ball towards the middle and taking a shot from 20 yards out that was again stopped by Schott.
Not only was this a milestone day for Izzo-Brown, but Blank also set the team record for most career starts. The reigning BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year recorded her 88th start, passing former All-Americans Chrissie Abbott and Lisa Stoia.
With one more match played, Blank will tie former All-American Amanda Cicchini for most career matches played with 89.
West Virginia also clinched the No. 3 seed in the BIG EAST American Division with its win, a Syracuse win over USF and Pitt’s win over Connecticut.
“What the No. 3 seed says right now is that anyone could win the BIG EAST,” said Izzo-Brown. “It is just wide open and any given day, anyone can win in this conference. We’re happy and excited that we finished third and playing Rutgers.”
“A lot of things happened to make us move up and we’re really excited about it,” said Mischler. “We get a bye and then travel to Rutgers, and this win gave us more confidence going into the playoffs.”
The Mountaineers will now travel to Piscataway, N.J., to take on Rutgers, the No. 2 seed in the BIG EAST National Division. The game will be on Sunday, Nov. 1 at Yurcak Field at 1 p.m.