MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The WVU women’s soccer team has qualified for the last twenty NCAA tournaments, dating all the way back to Nikki Izzo-Brown’s fifth season in 2000. A 21st consecutive trip to the NCAA’s may come in the spring but not any sooner than that.
The NCAA postponed all fall sports championships in August due to the pandemic. Early indications are that the NCAA would like to stage a postseason tournament in the spring.
“They want to give us an NCAA Tournament. However it would probably be less teams than 64,” Izzo-Brown said.
“For me to predict what will happen this spring, it will be very interesting. I hope it goes back to normal.”
In the meantime, WVU and their nine Big 12 Conference rivals will take the field this fall in a nine-week round robin schedule. A league champion will be crowned at the end of the fall season in early-November. Teams will play each Friday for nine consecutive weeks.
The Mountaineers will host four league matches while playing five on the road. They will open up Friday night at Iowa State.
“At the end of the day, we are so thankful to play and we are so thankful that we are going to have some competition.
“I have never had a schedule come out so late in the year. Knowing from my standpoint as a professional, that with our planning, we know Friday to Friday. So we know that calendar where two weeks ago I didn’t know that. It has been really good for what I do as a professional to have a really good understanding of game day and what practices need to look like.”
In a traditional lead up to a season, the Mountaineers would have had a spring slate of matches and two fall scrimmages against regional opponents prior to their regular season opener. Neither happened this year.
“We have had two scrimmages full-field. But it is different. I think the weeks we have had, the extra weeks, are really helping. What we tried to have the players buy into was that every training session was like a game. Every training session, we were recording film and cutting film from practice. Those movements and those opportunities had to be taken like we were playing Virginia or Penn State.
“We don’t know where we are at until we see another opponent but at least the players responded and they wanted that competitive environment.”
13 letterwinners and 8 starters return for the Mountaineers even though 17 of the 25 players on the roster are freshmen or sophomores. Juniors Jordan Brewster, Grace Smith and Lauren Segalla have been named the team tri-captains. Segalla started every match as a sophomore in 2018 but she was limited to just five matches last year before suffering a season-ending injury.
“I am really excited for Lauren Segalla. I really feel confident that she has done everything she could do to come back and come back with a totally different mindset. She has this drive about her right now that there’s no setbacks. She is a hundred percent ready.”
The Mountaineers must replace four-year starting goalkeeper Rylee Foster. She is now competing for Liverpool FC in England. Boston College transfer Maddie Murphy, Kayza Massey and Jessica Kasacek are all in the mix for playing time in net.
“It has been neck-and-neck. The keepers are doing a good job battling for the start.
“All three have elevated each others games and their performances in net. It will be tight up until game time with that decision.”