Ousted Early

Six days ago, the West Virginia women's soccer team was all smiles as it held up its third Big East Conference tournament trophy in five years.

On Saturday, however, Virginia Tech stunned the Mountaineers in a 1-0 first-round NCAA tournament loss to the Hokies at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. The Mountaineers finished the season 17-5.

"We just ran out of time," said veteran head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. "Give me five more minutes, and I think that team would've put one away."

The Mountaineers out-shot the Hokies 14-13 in the game and 11-6 in the second half.

It is just the fourth time in 12-consecutive NCAA tournament bids that the Mountaineers have fell in the first round under Izzo-Brown, the program's only coach.

"We came out a little nervous to start the game," said senior forward Blake Miller. "We had a few chances to put one in the final few minutes. If we had a few more minutes, we definitely would've kept battling, but we didn't."

The match was at times overly physical resulting in five yellow cards including one on the WVU bench in the 86th minute. The two teams combined for 29 penalties in the game, which is nine more than in an average WVU game this season.

"I just thought the consistency of the refereeing just wasn't there tonight," Izzo-Brown said after the game. "Even if we would've won the game, I would've thought the refereeing wasn't consistent."

Virginia Tech struck early in the first half, as midfielder Kelly Conheeney was able to pound a shot to the right of WVU's redshirt freshman goalkeeper Sara Keane for the only goal of the game.

The Mountaineers had opportunities, particularly in the second half. In the final 10 minutes, junior midfielder Bri Rodriguez booted a ball over the goal from 10 yards out.

In the end, the Mountaineers fell just short.

"Obviously, you know what's on the line, but it's just a matter of us understanding what the stakes were," said junior defender Bry McCarthy. "It's one and done … As soon as we realized that, it became so real."

The loss meant the end of six WVU players' careers. One of those, defender Erica Henderson, was part of all three of WVU's Big East titles. Miller finished fifth on the program's career goals list with 33 and fifth on the career points list with 85.

"Being here and being a part of this program and a part of this is amazing. It's more than anything can ask for," Miller said. "You don't realize that until you go through everything with people like my teammates. We're a family. I will think about that my entire life."


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