OPENING KICK: App State will open the 2023 season with a short trip down the mountain, as it takes on Wake Forest, Thursday at 7 p.m. at Spry Stadium. The match will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.
ABOUT APP STATE: After a 2022 season that saw App State more than double its conference win total from the 2021 campaign, the Mountaineers look to take the next step forward in 2023. App State finished 7th in the Sun Belt with a record of 6-9-4 overall and 5-5 in league play. Behind fifth-year senior goalkeeper Kerry Eagleston, who ranks third in program history for both shutouts and saves, the Mountaineers look to blend veteran experience with 11 freshmen newcomers. In addition to Eagleston, App State returns Izzi Wood, who led the team with six goals last season, and Shannon Studer, who scored three goals and added two assists as a freshman last fall. Skyler Walk will anchor the defensive unit. She was the lone Mountaineer field player to start in all 19 matches last season. The Mountaineers posted an undefeated spring season, earning draws against Virginia Tech and South Carolina.
ABOUT WAKE FOREST: The Demon Deacons have qualified for the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons, doing so last year with an overall record of 9-7-3 and a 3-6-1 mark in ACC play. Wake Forest returns five players who started all 19 matches a season ago, and 11 of its top 12 goal scorers. The Deacs hung their hats on defense last season, where they finished tied atop the ACC by allowing just 16 goals on the campaign. Wake Forest was picked to finish 8th in the ACC preseason coaches poll.
SERIES HISTORY: Thursday’s season opener will mark the fifth all-time meeting between App State and Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons have won all four prior matchups, including a 2-0 victory in Boone on Sept. 5, 2021. In that contest, Kerry Eagleston recorded a career of 20 saves, one save away from tying the most saves in a single game of 21 by Kelley Guinn in 1995 against Davidson.
ELEVATING THE A: App State won five conference matches last season, a significant improvement from their two Sun Belt wins a season ago. The five conference wins are the most for App State since 2018 when they went 6-4 in Sun Belt play. App State improved by nine points over last year’s finish, marking the biggest jump for any team in the Sun Belt last year. They also finished seventh in the Sun Belt standings, despite being ranked 13th in the preseason poll, also marking the largest jump for any squad.
INCREDIBLE IZZI: App State returns their leading goal scorer from a season ago in the form of junior forward Izzi Wood. After missing the 2021 season with a torn ACL, Wood returned to score six goals for the Mountaineers in 2022, leading the team with 12 points on the campaign. She also finished the season with 52 shots, including 24 shots on goal, with ranked 7th in the Sun Belt. She netted a brace against Radford on Sept. 15 and scored in back-to-back games late in the season to help the Mountaineers earn a Sun Belt tournament berth.