KANSAS CITY, MO. – The No. 1-ranked and top-seeded West Virginia University women’s soccer team shook off its first two-goal deficit of the 2016 season and tallied three unanswered goals to win the 2016 Big 12 Soccer Championship title tonight with a 3-2 overtime victory over No. 7-seed TCU at Swope Soccer Village.
Senior midfielder Ashley Lawrence, the Big 12 Soccer Championship Most Outstanding Offensive Player, scored the golden goal in the 97th minute, finishing a great cross from sophomore forward Hannah Abraham toward the near right post.
The win is the Mountaineers’ (19-1-1, 8-0) 19th victory of the season, matching the program record set in 2015. Tonight is the team’s first two-goal comeback since defeating Missouri, 3-2, on Aug. 24, 2014, in University Park, Pennsylvania.
“This is all just surreal right now,” Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “All the credit to our seniors. They all stepped up tonight. It was all just incredible. What a great championship.”
The 2016 Big 12 Conference regular-season champions, WVU’s conference title count now stands at 16. Tonight’s win is the Mountaineers’ third at the championship in four seasons and first since winning back-to-back titles in 2013 and 2014. WVU has won six conference titles since claiming its first in the Big East Conference in 2007.
WVU claims the Big 12 Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with the win. The Mountaineers will learn their postseason fate tomorrow. The NCAA Selection Show will stream at 4:30 p.m. at NCAA.com.
“I learned a lot about this team’s character tonight,” Izzo-Brown added. “It’s all about the iron will your team has, and we were not going to surrender. TCU was playing tough defense. I’m just so proud to coach a team like this.
“It feels awesome to bring the trophy back to Morgantown.”
Senior Kadeisha Buchanan, the Big 12 Soccer Championship Most Outstanding Defensive Player, scored with 1:43 remaining in regulation to send the match into overtime. Lawrence got the scoring play started, sending the ball into the box, which junior forward Michaela Abam flicked toward the goal line. Buchanan ran up on it and put it behind TCU’s Katie Lund and into the right corner.
Down two goals for the first time since the 2015 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight, the Mountaineers came out buzzing in the second half.
Abam found the goal WVU had chased for nearly 59 minutes, scoring her team-best ninth of the season off a cross from sophomore forward Sh’Nia Gordon. The Houston native was posted inside the goal box and easily finished toward the right corner.
The Mountaineers outshot the Horned Frogs (12-6-2, 2-5-1) 29-7. The WVU defense was particularly outstanding in overtime, controlling pace off the first touch and denying TCU a shot.
Abam and Lawrence finished with a game-high three points.
WVU forced Lund into nine saves, including five in the second half. Junior Michelle Newhouse made two saves, both in the second half, to improve to 7-0 on the season.
The Mountaineers earned an 8-0 advantage in corner kicks. This marks the third time this season an opponent has failed to earn a corner kick on the Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers’ 10-match shutout streak was halted just 3:25 into the match, as TCU’s Michelle Prokof snuck behind the WVU back line before sending a hard, lofting shot from 25-yards out that clanged off the left post and fell into the net.
The goal was the first scored by a Big 12 Conference opponent since Texas Tech netted a one in a 1-0 defeat of the Mountaineers in the semifinals of the 2015 Big 12 Soccer Championships on Nov. 6, 2015.
TCU padded its lead in the 40th minute. Out wide with the ball, McKenzie Oliver sent a through ball that snuck behind Mountaineer defenders. Allison Ganter gave chase inside the box. With only Newhouse to beat, she put the ball away from the Mountaineer goalkeeper and toward the right post.
Junior forward Heather Kaleiohi had a great look one minute after TCU’s early goal, but her shot from 10-yards above the box was stopped at the left post by Lund.
The teams traded play between the boxes for several minutes before the Mountaineers earned their next quality look, which came off a quality individual effort from junior defender Amandine Pierre-Louis. After fighting through traffic, she earned a shot from just above the box, but again Lund was there at the left post to make the save.
Down two goals, freshman Jade Gentile earned a clean look on the net after spinning away from TCU defenders in the 42nd minute. Lund again held her line and made the save on the attempt.
Abam nearly netted the equalizer in the 64th minute. Off the team’s fourth corner kick of the night, the ball bounced up top to the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. She immediately sent a curving shot toward the frame, but it pinged off the crossbar and out of play.
Abam paced the field with a season-high eight shots, while Pierre-Louis added seven.
TCU’s Karitas Tomasdottir finished with a team-best three shots.
Following the match, five Mountaineers were named to the Big 12 All-Tournament Team: Abam, Lawrence, Pierre-Louis, Buchanan and Gordon.
With the win, WVU improves to 6-1-1 all-time against TCU and 2-1 against the Horned Frogs at the Big 12 Soccer Championship.