Mountaineers earn road win at Bucknell

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West Virginia captain defender Jordan Brewster sends a corner kick into the box during the second half of the Mountaineers’ rout of Buffalo at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium on Aug. 19, 2021. (Photo: Sam Coniglio)

The No.12-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team used a pair of second-half goals to earn a 3-1 win over Bucknell on Friday night, at Emmitt Field at Holmes Stadium in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

A trio of Mountaineers scored a goal in the win, while senior defender Jordan Brewster’s 59th-minute penalty kick was credited as the game winner, the second of her career. Sophomore forward/midfielder Abby Rodriguez tallied her first career strike in the contest, while junior defender Julianne Vallerand recorded her second goal of the season to lift WVU to the two-goal win.

“I thought Bucknell had a great game plan that definitely disrupted us,” Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “They made it very hard for us to find seams and gaps. However, I was proud of our second-half performance and how we were able to put two away.”

West Virginia (2-1) struggled to get anything moving in the early minutes of the first half, before a lightning delay sent the teams into the locker room at the 7:50 mark. Out of the break, Vallerand tallied WVU’s first shot of the match, but it sailed high. From there, the Mountaineer offense was quiet, while the defense was forced to fend off a powerful Bucknell attack.

The Bison were first on the board, breaking down the WVU back line and finding the back of the net in the 36th minute. Bucknell didn’t hold the lead for long though because West Virginia tallied the equalizer just minutes later. Freshman forward/midfielder Leah Sparacio volleyed the ball into the far corner before passing it back to sophomore midfielder Lilly McCarthy. McCarthy found Rodriguez at the top of the 6-yard box, who squared up and sent the ball past the BU keeper.

Following halftime, the Mountaineer attack strengthened, creating opportunities on the offensive side of the pitch. At the 58:32 mark, Bucknell was whistled for a foul inside the box to lead to a WVU penalty kick. Brewster took the opportunity and sent the ball into the top left corner to give the Mountaineers the lead.

From there, West Virginia continued to dominate possession, leading to Vallerand’s insurance goal in the 73rd minute. She took a pass from McCarthy, then dribbled in and out of a slew of Bucknell defenders before sending a strong shot into the net to put WVU ahead, 3-1, and sealing the win for the Mountaineers.

West Virginia outshot Bucknell, 13-7, with WVU placing nine of those on goal. Along with Vallerand’s second goal of the campaign, McCarthy also tallied her second helper of the year on Rodriguez’s goal in the first half. With the win, the Mountaineers moved to 2-0 all-time against the Bison, while they earned their first-ever victory in Lewisburg.

West Virginia has a quick turnaround this weekend, as the squad returns to Morgantown to host Duquesne on Sunday, Aug. 29. The match is slated to start at 5 p.m. ET, at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, and it also will be broadcast live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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