MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The best season in LMU women’s soccer history came to a close Sunday. Facing one of the most dominate offenses in the country in 4th-ranked West Virginia, the Lions matched the Mountaineers step for step for 45 minutes, taking a 2-2 tie into halftime.
But West Virginia powered on to score three times in the second half for a 5-2 final in the NCAA Tournament round of 16 at Dick Dleck Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va.
LMU concludes its historic run with a 15-6-1 overall record. Along the way, the Lions set program records for wins (15), West Coast Conference wins (7), WCC standing (tied for 2nd) and earned their first-ever postseason victories - a 1-0 shutout at No. 17 Cal in the NCAA Tournament First Round, and a 1-0 shutout of Minnesota in the tournament’s Second Round. They also finish one shutout shy of the school’s single-season record.
“It’s been a good run and I can’t be prouder of this team,” said LMU Head Coach Michelle Myers. “We had great opportunities, we possessed the ball, got in behind them and created things. The difference today was that they were very clinical in their finishing. When they got a chance, they finished it.”
Entering Sunday’s match, the Mountaineers had scored 56 goals on the year, including back-to-back 4-0 shutouts in the NCAA Tournament’s first two rounds. WVU had also allowed just seven goals against in 21 matches.
True to form, West Virginia came out of the gates on the attack, forcing a Charlee Pruitt save one minute into the run of play. The Mountaineers got on the board in the 17th minute as Ashley Lawrence sent a long cross into the box for Michaela Abam who headed a shot into the far right post netting.
Doing what they’ve gone best all season, the Lions responded off a set piece, knotting the score at 1-1 in the 26th minute. Jocelyn Blankenship recorded her LMU record 21st assist, sending the free kick at the head of Raquel Angelone who slipped a header in behind WVU goalkeeper Hannah Steadman.
West Virginia struck again in the 39th minute as Heather Kaleiohi jumped on a rebound at the left post and beat Pruitt with a quick tap back into the net. Amandine Louis-Pierre was credited with an assist on the goal, taking the first shot of the sequence that was block saved by Pruitt.
LMU evened the score once again in the 41st minute as a shot from outside the 18 bounced off of a WVU defender and deflected into the net.
While the Lions held a 9-7 shot advantage through the first frame, the second half would become the Kailey Utley show for the Mountaineers. The senior forward who entered the match with nine goals and six assists on the year, exploded for a second-half hat trick. She scored in the 54th minute, 57th minute and 81st minute on her only three shots of the match.
Steadman was also instrumental as WVU pulled away, making a pair of big saves on two Blankenship shots and one on a shot by Ally Andreini.