HARRISONBURG, Va. – Using two early goals in the first and second halves, the No. 15-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team earned a 2-1 win at James Madison on Thursday night at Sentara Park in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
West Virginia (5-2-1) struck very quickly, as junior forward/defender Julianne Vallerand put WVU on the board just 1:20 into the match, tallying her fourth goal of the season. Sophomore midfielder Lilly McCarthy replicated Vallerand’s quick score in the second half, finding the back of the net just 1:21 into the second 45 minutes. McCarthy’s speedy strike was credited as the game winner, the first of her career.
“It was a total team effort tonight to get a road win,” WVU coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “It was great to see us get on the scoreboard as early as we did in both halves. I thought we created a lot of chances and for us to be able to finish two was great.”
The Dukes had barely taken the opening kick before the Mountaineers put one in the back of the net. Heredia-Beltran took a pass from junior goalkeeper Kayza Massey and found Vallerand in the middle of the pitch. The Terrebonne, Quebec, native dribbled through a few JMU defenders and sent a long strike towards goal, still 10-yards out from the from the 18-yard box. Her strong shot was out of reach of the Dukes’ keeper and sailed into the net, just over one minute into the match.
For much of the rest of the half, WVU and JMU were evenly matched, trading shots on either end. West Virginia got a few shots off, along with one on frame from junior midfielder Maya McCutcheon. Massey added one save in the half, as the Mountaineers rode their early, 1-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
At the beginning of the second half, McCarthy began the frame the same way Vallerand did in the first, winning a ball from James Madison and squaring up to the net just inside the box for the early, second-half goal at the 46:21 mark.
West Virginia held on to its 2-0 lead for much of the second half, but the Dukes earned one back when the Mountaineers were forced to fend off several JMU shots on the goal line. In a drastic attempt to head the ball away, WVU surrendered an own goal in the 77th minute for a 2-1 Mountaineer advantage. However, West Virginia was able to hold off JMU for the remainder of the match to take home the victory.
The final box score showed a relatively even match between the two squads, with West Virginia edging JMU in shots (10-7) and shots on goal (6-2). Massey recorded a pair of saves, while James Madison keeper Alexandra Blom tallied four. Vallerand and McCutcheon led the offensive, tallying a pair of shots apiece.
With the win, West Virginia improves to 8-1-1 all-time over the Dukes, along with 4-1 in Harrisonburg. Of note, Valerand’s first-half goal at the 1:20 mark was the eighth-fastest goal in program history and the earliest score for the Mountaineers since senior forward Alina Stahl scored at 2:01 in the first half against Bowling Green on Sept. 22, 2019.
Up next, the Mountaineers return to Morgantown to conclude their nonconference slate and host Kent State on Sunday, Sept. 19. Kickoff at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium is tabbed for 1 p.m. ET.