MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Senior Michaela Abam, unwilling to let her college career end, struck for two goals and sparked West Virginia to a 3-0 win over Bucknell in the first round of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament Saturday.
The Mountaineers (16-3-2, 7-1-1), second-seeded in the Palo Alto Region, guaranteed themselves another home match at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium next Friday against Rutgers.
“It’s exciting for our senior class to advance,” West Virginia coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “I really thought Michaela stepped it up, finishing two goals. The team had a clean sheet, and it was a total team effort defensively. I am pretty pleased with how we performed today and that we are able to advance.”
Abam scored the go-ahead goal in the 16th minute and made it 2-0 in the 47th minute, her first multiple-goal performance this season.
Sh’Nia Gordon added WVU’s third goal in the 58th minute.
The Mountaineers squeezed off 25 shots while its backline did not allow a single opportunity. Bucknell (12-9, 7-2) became the second opponent this season and seventh in 22 years to not earn a shot.
WVU also earned an 18-3 edge in corner kicks, a flurry of chances that matched a program record.
The shutout, West Virginia’s 12th of the season, was credited to sophomore Rylee Foster — her 11th clean sheet of the year and her third in NCAA tournament action.
Abam gave the Mountaineers the lead for good by heading a corner kick from Carla Portillo from 6 yards out.
The All-American’s insurance goal happened just 1:43 into the second half. Heather Kaleiohi sent a cross in from the end line, and Abam quickly flicked it toward the near left post.
“Something we wanted to focus on was just everybody moving off the ball and helping each other out — whether it’s just moving on a different angle, or to just keep our communication going on,” Abam said. “I think we did that pretty well today, and it just reiterates the fact that, again, it’s postseason. We have to keep our urgency up and make sure we’re all focused in and doing our job.”
Abam’s 42 career goals are the third-most in WVU history.
The Mountaineers third goal came off a cross from Bianca St. Georges. Gordon received it near the penalty line and moved away from her defender before sending a hard shot toward the far-right post.
Abam nearly netted her third goal in the 56th minute. Wide of the box, she drove toward the net before sending a shot that slammed off the left post. Gordon jumped on the rebound and sent a shot toward the frame that was tipped away.