Dale Sparks/WVUSports.com

West Virginia’s Michaela Abam, celebrating her golden goal in the 104th minute against Ohio State in last November’s NCAA tournament, was a unanimous preseason All-Big 12 selection.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia, already tabbed as the preseason No. 1 in the national rankings, was the overwhelming pick to win its sixth consecutive Big 12 women’s soccer title in a vote of conference coaches Thursday.

Despite graduating Canadian national-team members Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence from a squad that finished as runners-up to USC in last season’s College Cup, the Mountaineers project to dominate the Big 12 again. They garnered nine of 10 first-place votes — the most possible, given that coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.

Second-place Kansas received the other first-place vote.

West Virginia owns a 46-3-2 record in Big 12 action since joining in 2012 and did not allow a regular-season goal in the league last year. Coach Nikki Izzo-Brown’s team has been scored on only 12 times in its past 35 conference games.

The Mountaineers placed a record six players on the all-league preseason team, led by All-America senior forward Michaela Abam, the lone unanimous selection. She was the 2016 co-Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and led the conference in points (33), goals (12) and game-winners (5) last season.

Midfielder Carla Portillo, forward Sh’Nia Gordon, and defenders Bianca St. Georges and Amandine Pierre-Louis joined sophomore goalkeeper Rylee Foster in taking preseason honors.

West Virginia opens the season Aug. 18 at No. 5 Georgetown and begins its home schedule on Aug. 24 against No. 11 Virginia.

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