WVUSports.com

A Look Back at 2016

  • By Shannon McNamara
  • |
  • March 22, 2017 04:18 PM
  • |
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - How does a team move past a record-setting year?
 
If you are the West Virginia University women’s soccer team, you hit the weight room, lace up your cleats and return to the field for your spring season.
 
The Mountaineers face their first competition this weekend since losing, 3-1, to USC in the 2016 NCAA College Cup Final on Dec. 4. Before the program turns the page and continues its preparation for the 2017 season, let us look back at one of the most memorable times in the program’s 21-year history.
 
 
Historic Season Ends in College Cup Final
The then-top ranked Mountaineers (23-2-2, 8-0) saw their historic 2016 season end in the last match of the year, as the team suffered a 3-1 defeat to No. 7 USC in the NCAA College Cup Final, on Dec. 4, at Avaya Stadium, in San Jose, California.
 
WVU’s run to the final was unforgettable, as the team earned three wins at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown, as well as a penalty kick shootout against UCLA in the third round, before knocking off No. 6 North Carolina, 1-0, in the semifinal on Dec. 2, at Avaya Stadium.
 
The Mountaineers finished the year with a nation-best and program-record 23 wins and ranked No. 2 nationally with a .889 win percentage.
 
Buchannan Tabbed Nation’s Best
Senior defender Kadeisha Buchanan left the collegiate game at the top, as she was named the 2016 Missouri Athletic Club (MAC) Hermann Trophy recipient on Jan. 6.
 
A native of Brampton, Ontario, Buchanan was the first Mountaineer student-athlete to claim the storied award, the highest level of achievement in the sport. She also was the first defender to win the honor since Cat Reddick (North Carolina) did so in 2003.
 
A four-time NSCAA All-American and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Buchanan also claimed the 2016 espnW and TopDrawerSoccer.com National Player of the Year honors. Additionally, she was named the Honda Sport Award winner for soccer and the 2016 NCAA Tournament Defensive MVP. A two-time team captain, Buchanan also was a finalist for the 2016 Senior CLASS Award and was named to the award’s All-America First Team.
 
The only WVU women’s soccer player to receive All-America honors in all four seasons in Morgantown, she also was a four-time All-Big 12 honoree and won four Academic All-Big 12 awards, three Big 12 Tournament Defensive MVP honors and the 2015 Soccer News Net Women’s College Boot award.
 
Buchanan started 90 of 91 career matches. She finished the season with nine points (3 G, 3 A), including one game-winner, and tallied 25 (8 G, 9 A) career points.
 
Duo Signs Professional Contracts
Two of the most decorated Mountaineers in program history, defender Kadeisha Buchanan and midfielder Ashley Lawrence signed professional contracts following the 2016 season. Buchanan signed with Olympique Lyonnais, the reigning UEFA Women’s Champion League champion, while Lawrence inked a two-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain.  
 
The professional development capped an exciting six months for the duo, who helped the Canadian Women’s National Team capture Bronze at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in August before leading the Mountaineers to two Big 12 Conference titles and their first-ever NCAA College Cup appearance.
 
National Rankings
The Mountaineers earned the No. 1 ranking in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Division I Poll on Oct. 11. It was the team’s first-ever No. 1 ranking in the national poll. The Mountaineers were the first Big 12 Conference program to earn the No. 1 ranking in the NSCAA Poll.  
 
WVU sat atop the three major polls for the first time in program history on Oct. 11. On Oct. 18, the Mountaineers ranked No. 1 in all three major polls, as well as the NCAA RPI, for the first time in program history.
 
The Mountaineers spent eight weeks ranked No. 1 nationally and entered the 2016 NCAA Tournament as the nation’s top team. WVU finished the year ranked No. 2, the team’s highest final ranking in 21 seasons.
 
We Are the Champions! (x5)
With its 3-0 win at TCU on Oct. 21, the Mountaineers earned the 2016 Big 12 Conference regular-season title, their fifth straight crown. WVU has won the title each season since joining the Big 12 in 2012, and the team is the first program in Big 12 history to win five straight outright championships. Also the 2016 Big 12 preseason favorite, WVU’s accomplishment marked the 10th time in Big 12 history the preseason favorite in the coaches poll also won the title. WVU owns a 35-1-3 all-time record in Big 12 play and is unbeaten at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
 
The Mountaineers swept the conference’s titles three weeks later, as WVU claimed its third Big 12 Soccer Championship crown in four seasons with a come-from-behind, 3-2 overtime win against TCU on Nov. 6, at Swope Soccer Village, in Kansas City, Missouri. The program has claimed six conference championship titles since winning its first in the Big East Conference in 2007.
 
Dating back to its days in the Big East Conference, WVU has won six straight conference regular-season crowns and 10 since its first title in 2002. WVU has won 11 regular season and championship conference titles in seven seasons and 16 since 2002. 
 
Best of the Big 12
For the fourth straight season, WVU earned more than half of the Big 12 Conference yearly honors, as coach Nikki Izzo-Brown was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year, senior Kadeisha Buchanan was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and junior Michaela Abam was named the co-Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year.
 
Buchanan capped her brilliant Mountaineer career with her fourth straight defensive award. She was the second athlete in Big 12 history in any sport to earn an unshared major award four straight seasons (Zuzana Zemenova, Baylor women’s tennis, 2005-08). A WVU defensive player has earned the award each year since WVU joined the Big 12 Conference in 2012.
 
Abam shared the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year award with Oklahoma State’s Courtney Dike. She was the second Mountaineer in four seasons to earn the honor, as Frances Silva also received the award in 2013. Izzo-Brown’s honor was her fifth straight, and she is the only coach in conference history to earn three or more consecutive awards. 
 
Additionally, six Mountaineers earned a combined seven All-Big 12 awards. Buchanan, Abam, senior Ashley Lawrence and juniors Carla Portillo and Amandine Pierre-Louis were named to the All-Big 12 First Team, while Rylee Foster was named to the All-Big 12 Second and Freshman Teams. Buchanan and Lawrence were unanimous selections, and it marked the fourth straight award for both.
 
WVU Makes History
The Mountaineers did something in 2016 no Big 12 Conference team had done before, as they became the first squad in Big 12 history to pitch a season shutout in league play. The WVU defense held each Big 12 team but Texas to two shots or less on-goal en route to the clean-sheet victories.
 
Additionally, with its 8-0 mark in conference play, WVU became the second program and third team in Big 12 history to finish league play unbeaten and untied. Nebraska previously achieved the feat in 1996 and 1999.
 
Since 2014, WVU is 21-0-2 in Big 12 Conference regular-season games. It is the longest unbeaten streak in Big 12 history. It also marks the first time in conference history the Big 12 regular-season champion has posted an unbeaten record in league play in three straight years.
 
Home Points
Big 12 or Big East, one fact has remained constant for the Mountaineers since 2009 - they do not lose home conference matches. WVU shows a 34-match unbeaten streak in conference games at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium and has not dropped a league contest since losing 3-2 in overtime to No. 8 Notre Dame on Oct. 2, 2009. The streak ranks third nationally. WVU is 19-0-1 all-time in home Big 12 matches.
 
Challenging Slate
Year after year, coach Nikki Izzo-Brown challenges the Mountaineers with one of the nation’s hardest schedules, and 2016 was no different. WVU faced one ranked opponent in six of the first seven weeks of the season, including one ranked team in each of the first five weeks, marking the first time since at least the 2005 season the Mountaineers kicked against a ranked opponent in five straight weeks. 
 
WVU finished 5-1-1 against teams who qualified for the 2015 NCAA Tournament, including a 1-1 (2OT) draw at reigning national champion Penn State on Aug. 19 and a 3-1 win at runner-up Duke on Sept. 9.
 
WVU ended the year 6-2-2 against ranked teams, 4-2-1 against top-10 opponents and 6-0-1 against teams from the Big Ten Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference. 
 
Lawrence Leaves No Doubt
Senior Ashley Lawrence was one of the best attack players in the collegiate game - and she had the numbers and accolades to back up the statement. A two-time NSCAA First Team All-American, she started 87 of 91 career matches and ranked second on the team with 63 (17 G, 29 A) career points. Her 29 career helpers were the third-best total in program history. She paced the Mountaineers in 2016 with 10 assists, the third-best single-season total in program history and the sixth most in the NCAA.
 
Lawrence finished the year second on the team with 18 points (4 G, 10 A).
 
Defense Back for More
Under the leadership of senior Kadeisha Buchanan, the WVU defense allowed just 62 goals and posted 55 shutouts since 2013. WVU posted a program-record and nation-best 18 shutouts in 2016. The backline allowed 12 goals, the second fewest allowed in program history. The Mountaineers finished the year ranked No. 8 nationally with a 0.432 GAA.
 
WVU posted a program-record 937:17 consecutive shut-out minutes between Sept. 23 - Nov. 6 and denied opponents a goal in 45 halves this season.
 
Not Up in Here!
As has been the theme in recent years, the Mountaineers resembled a brick wall this season, allowing 188 shots for a .064 shot percentage. Only 73 of the shots landed on-frame. Eighteen of WVU’s 23 wins came via a shutout, including a 1-0 victory over No. 8 Clemson, a 2-0 win over No. 23 Oklahoma and 1-0 wins against No. 5 Duke in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals and No. 6 North Carolina in the College Cup Semifinal. The 18 shutouts were a program single-season record, besting the previous record of 15, set in 2015. They match the Big 12 Conference record, by Oklahoma State in 2011.
 
Stacking Shutouts
Following a 1-0 (2OT) loss to No. 9 Georgetown on Sept. 18, WVU put together a 14-match win streak, with 12 of the victories coming in shut-out fashion; TCU snapped the team’s shut-out streak at 10 with two goals scored in WVU’s 3-2 (OT) win in the Big 12 Soccer Championship final on Nov. 6, and No. 18-ranked UCLA snapped the win streak with a 1-1 (2OT) draw on Nov. 20, in the 2016 NCAA Tournament Third Round.
 
The Mountaineers set the program and Big 12 Conference’s longest shut-out streak record at 10 with a 2-0 victory over Oklahoma in the semifinals of the 2016 Big 12 Soccer Championship on Nov. 4, in Kansas City. WVU previously strung together nine straight clean sheets in 2015.
 
All 10 shutouts came against Big 12 Conference opponents - eight in regular-season play and two in the postseason. WVU was the first team in conference history to post a shut-out season in league play, and the team held all but Texas to two or fewer shots on-goal (in regular-season play). WVU’s shut-out streak was the longest nationally since UCLA posted 10 straight clean sheets in 2014.
 
Abam is Awesome
After finishing tied with graduate Kailey Utley with a team-best 12 goals in 2015, junior forward Michaela Abam was the undisputed Mountaineer offensive leader this year, as she paced the squad for a third straight season with 12 goals, matching her career-best season output. The total ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 and was the ninth most scored by an individual in the NCAA. She ranks No. 8 in program history with 32 career goals.
 
A 2016 NSCAA All-America Second Team honoree, Abam finished the year ranked No. 1 on the team and in the Big 12, and No. 24 nationally, with 33 points (12 G, 9 A); the nine helpers were a career single-season high and rank second on the team. She also posted a team-best five game-winners.
 
For her efforts all season, Abam was named the co-Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, sharing the award with Oklahoma State’s Courtney Dike. She was the second Mountaineer in four seasons to earn the honor.
 
Attack Comes from All Directions
Junior midfielder Carla Portillo and sophomore forward Sh’Nia Gordon enjoyed career seasons. The duo finished third on the team with 17 points each. Portillo (5 G, 7 A) and Gordon (7 G, 3 A) set or matched career single-season bests in points, goals and assists marks. Gordon’s goal total ranks second on the team and No. 6 in the Big 12. She has started all 50 career matches and shows 30 (12 G, 6 A) career points. Portillo has started 48 of 71 career matches and shows 29 (8 G, 13 A) career points.
 
New to the starting rotation this season was junior forward Heather Kaleiohi. Though she missed two early matches, she finished fifth on the team with 14 points, including a career-high six goals, with three game-winners. The six scores are third most on the team and No. 9 in the Big 12.
 
Playing off the bench, sophomore forwards Hannah Abraham and Grace Cutler added energy sparks to the Mountaineers’ offensive attack. Abraham ranked sixth on the team with 10 points (4 G, 2 A), while Cutler ranks seventh with nine points (4 G, 1 A). All four of Abraham’s scores were game-winners, the fourth-best mark in the Big 12 Conference. Cutler tallied her first game-winner in a WVU uniform with a goal in the 41st minute in the Mountaineers’ 2-0 victory over Oklahoma on Nov. 4, in the Big 12 Soccer Championship semifinal.  
 
Izzo-Brown Hits Benchmark
Coach Nikki Izzo-Brown played a big role in making sure the Mountaineers’ 2016 season-opening weekend was memorable, as the team’s 2-0 victory over Buffalo on Aug. 21, at the Penn State Invitational, was career win No. 300 for the 21-year WVU women’s soccer head coach.
 
Izzo-Brown’s 22-year coaching record stands at 322-108-46 (.725). Before founding the WVU women’s soccer program in 1995, she spent one season at West Virginia Wesleyan in 1994. Izzo-Brown has posted a winning record in all 21 seasons with the Mountaineers and has led WVU to 10 wins or more each year but 1999. WVU has earned a program-record 23 victories this season.
 
Sweet 300
In just 21 seasons, the WVU women’s soccer team has earned 309 program wins, an average of 15 victories per season. The Mountaineers earned program win No. 300 with a 3-0 victory at TCU on Oct. 21, 2016. All program wins have come under coach Nikki Izzo-Brown.
 
Taking Names
With its 1-0 win against No. 8 Clemson in its 2016 home season opener at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium on Aug. 26, WVU has defeated at least one top-10 team in each of the last 12 season. The Mountaineers also earned two wins over No. 5 Duke, a 3-1 victory in Durham, North Carolina, on Sept. 9, and a 1-0 victory in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals on Nov. 26, in Morgantown, as well as a 1-0 victory against No. 6 North Carolina in the College Cup Semifinal on Dec. 2, in San Jose, California, giving the squad four wins over top-10 opponents for the first time in program history.
 
WVU is 17-13-3 against top-10 teams and 28-29-10 against all ranked opponents since 2005.
 
Morgantown Magic
The Mountaineers have developed a true home field advantage, going 119-18-14 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium since its opening in August 2004. 
 
WVU recently put its name in the NCAA record book, as the Mountaineers went unbeaten in 30 straight home matches, not losing a contest at DDSS from Aug. 30, 2014 - Sept. 16, 2016. The streak ranks No. 11 all-time in NCAA women’s soccer history. The streak was snapped with a 1-0 (2OT) loss to No. 9 Georgetown on Sept. 18, 2016.
 
The Mountaineers played in front of more than 23,000 fans in 14 home games this season and set seven top-10 attendance marks. A season-high 2,471 fans were on hand to cheer the Mountaineers to a 1-0, double-overtime win against Ohio State on Nov. 18, in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament. The crowd was the second-largest women’s crowd in stadium history. WVU finished the year ranked No. 4 nationally in accumulate attendance (23,131) and No. 7 in average attendance (1,652). Both numbers were tops in the Big 12 Conference.
 
O Canada!
Seven Mountaineers on the 2016 roster hailed from Canada: Kadeisha Buchanan (Ontario), Rylee Foster (Ontario), Ashley Lawrence (Ontario), Easther Mayi Kith (Quebec), Amandine Pierre-Louis (Quebec), Carla Portillo (Ontario) and Bianca St. Georges (Quebec).
 
For Starters
Eight Mountaineers earned their first career starts this season - midfielders Patricia Fernandez, Vanessa Flores and Alli Magaletta, forward Heather Kaleiohi, defenders Macy Stalnaker and Dalanda Ouendeno, and goalkeepers Rylee Foster and Michelle Newhouse.
 
Coach Nikki Izzo-Brown utilized 10 different starting lineups throughout the 2016 season. No matter who earned the starting nod, though, the Mountaineers were the picture of consistency, finishing with a 23-2-2 record and posting 18 shutouts.
 
2016 Mountaineer Accolades
 
• NSCAA All-America Second Team
• NSCAA All-Central Region First Team
• Co-Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year
• All-Big 12 First Team
• Big 12 All-Tournament Team
• Academic All-Big 12 First Team
• Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week (9/13, 10/4)
• TDS.com Team of the Week (9/13, 11/22)
• TDS.com Midseason No. 35
• Preseason All-Big 12 Soccer Team
• TDS.com Preseason No. 39
 
• Academic All-Big 12 First Team
 
• CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team
• CoSIDA Academic All-District
• Academic All-Big 12 First Team
 
• Rio Summer Olympics Bronze Medalist (Canada)
• Professional contract, Olympic Lyonnais
• MAC Hermann Trophy Winner
• Honda Sport Award winner for soccer
• espnW Player of the Year
• TopDrawerSoccer.com Player of the Year
• NSCAA All-America First Team
• Senior CLASS Award All-America First Team
• NSCAA All-Central Region First Team
• Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year
• All-Big 12 First Team
• NCAA College Cup Most Outstanding Player on Defense
• NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team
• Big 12 Soccer Championship Most Outstanding Defensive Player
• Big 12 All-Tournament Team
• Academic All-Big 12 Second Team
• Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week (8/30, 10/4, 10/18)
• TDS.com Team of the Week (8/30, 10/4)
• WVU Student-Athlete of the Week (10/10, 11/28)
• TDS.com Midseason No. 2
• Preseason All-Big 12 Soccer Team
• TDS.com Preseason Best XI First Team
• TDS.com Preseason No. 2
 
• Academic All-Big 12 First Team
• FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (Mexico)
 
• NSCAA All-Central Region Second Team
• NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team
• All-Big 12 Second Team
• All-Big 12 Freshman Team
• FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (Canada)
• Big 12 Freshman of the Week (10/10)
• WVU Student-Athlete of the Week (8/22)
• TDS.com Top Freshmen Midseason No. 25
 
Sh’Nia Gordon
• NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team
 • Big 12 All-Tournament Team
• Academic All-Big 12 First Team
• Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week (10/31)
 
Coach Nikki Izzo-Brown
• NSCAA Senior College Regional Staff of the Year
• Big 12 Coach of the Year
• Named to the TDS.com Top 10 Coaches in the Women’s College Game List
 
• WVU Student-Athlete of the Week (9/26)
 
• Rio Summer Olympics Bronze Medalist (Canada)
• Professional contract, Paris Saint-Germain 
 • MAC Hermann Trophy Semifinalist
• NSCAA All-America First Team
• Senior CLASS Award All-America Second Team
• NSCAA All-Central Region First Team
• All-Big 12 First Team
• NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team
 • Big 12 Soccer Championship Most Outstanding Offensive Player
• Big 12 All-Tournament Team
• Academic All-Big 12 Second Team
• TDS.com Team of the Week (11/8)
• TDS.com Midseason No. 10
• Preseason All-Big 12 Soccer Team
• TDS.com Preseason Best XI First Team
• TDS.com Preseason No. 9
 
• Academic All-Big 12 First Team
• Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week (10/31)
• TDS.com Team of the Week (10/25)
• WVU Student-Athlete of the Week (9/26)
 
• WVU Student-Athlete of the Week (11/21)
 
• All-Big 12 First Team
• Big 12 All-Tournament Team
• Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week (9/13)
• TDS.com Team of the Week Honor Roll (8/23)
 
• NSCAA All-Central Region Second Team
• All-Big 12 First Team
• TDS.com Midseason No. 53
• Preseason All-Big 12 Soccer Team
• TDS.com Preseason No. 66
 
• CoSIDA Academic All-America Third Team
• CoSIDA Academic All-District
• Academic All-Big 12 First Team
• FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (Canada)
 
• Academic All-Big 12 First Team
 
The Mountaineers open their 2017 spring slate on Sunday, March 26, against Cincinnati, at 2 p.m., at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. The match is free and open to the public.
 

Tags

NCAA, WVU, women's soccer, Big 12 Conference


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