West Virginia, Minus Two All-Big 12 Players, Opens Big 12 Soccer Season

West Virginia puts it's #5 national ranking on the line against Penn State on Friday evening without two of its stars, who just finished play in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro. Despite that, head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown is optimistic about her team's chances this year.

WVU isn't starting things off easily, as it faces the second-ranked Nittany Lions on Friday evening. And without Ashley Lawrence and Kadeisha Buchanan, the Mountaineers certainly won't be at full strength. Still, Izzo-Brown sees only the positives in the exposure the duo brings to the WVU program, as she describes in the lead video.

The Mountaineers will also face Buffalo on Sunday in their opening road trip before returning home for a four game home stand over the next two weekends. Included in those games are contests against Clemson, Purdue and Ohio State.

The Mountaineers will rely on junior Michaela Abam and sophomore Nia Gordon to spark the offense and fill the void left by Kailey Utley, who tied for the team lead with 12 goals a year ago.

WVU is 9-8-3 in season openers. Friday marks the fourth straight season the Mountaineers have opened the season away from Morgantown, and the team is 1-1-1 in that span. 

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