WKU soccer opens C-USA play with double-overtime win over Southern Miss

WKU forward Ansley Cate (20) jumps to play the ball during a home game against Southern Miss on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. The Lady Toppers won the game in a double-overtime thriller.

Elliott Wells

The WKU soccer team (5-2-1, 1-0 C-USA) opened Conference USA play with a win at the WKU Soccer Complex on Saturday evening, as the Lady Toppers knocked off Southern Mississippi (5-4, 0-1 C-USA) in the 104th minute of the second overtime period to escape with a 1-0 win.

The Lady Toppers snapped the Golden Eagles’ four-game winning streak when All-C-USA Preseason Women’s Soccer Team member Ambere Barnett scored the game-winning goal at the 103:31 mark of the double-overtime period.

The sophomore midfielder struck a laser from 30 yards out to earn WKU its third-ever win against Southern Miss. The Lady Toppers now own a 3-1-1 lead in the all-time series.

“What a fantastic strike by Ambere [Barnett],” head coach Jason Neidell said postgame. “We were looking for an opportunity to be more clinical in front of the goal because I felt like we left some chances on table earlier in the game and we were looking for someone to step up and put the game away for us. Ambere put us on her shoulders today.”

Barnett led the Lady Toppers with seven shots on the afternoon, and two of her shots smacked the crossbar during the second half of play in regulation.

Although WKU struggled to score goals against the Southern Miss defense, Barnett’s golden goal lifted the Lady Toppers to their first double-overtime win of the season.

WKU had already played three double-overtime games prior to Saturday, two of which were last-minute losses.

“I was super excited,” Barnett said postgame. “I was ready for the game to end and to come out with a win. I was very proud of my teammates. We worked so hard together.”

While the Lady Toppers racked up 20-plus shots against the Golden Eagles, WKU managed to put only seven of those shots on frame against Southern Miss goalkeeper Kendell Mindnich, who finished the contest with six saves.

Redshirt senior goalkeeper Anne-Marie Ulliac recorded four saves in WKU’s win. Ulliac and the Lady Toppers also notched their fifth shutout of the season.

The Lady Toppers have struggled in the final third of the pitch for parts of the season and WKU ran into that same problem once again on Saturday. 

WKU came out of the gates with a lot of energy to start the match, winning a large portion of balls in the midfield.

WKU outshot the Golden Eagles 10-3 in the first half, as six different Lady Toppers got in on the attack and had a shot.

“I think we tired ourselves out in the first 10 to 15 minutes because we were so excited and so amped,” Neidell said postgame. “I think it took awhile for us to get settled into the game.”

WKU had its opportunities in the second half against Southern Miss, as the Lady Toppers racked up a total of 22 shots against the Golden Eagles.

The performance marked WKU’s third consecutive match with 20 or more shots.

WKU’s defense was stout against the Golden Eagles, as the Lady Toppers limited Southern Miss to only seven shots without allowing a goal.

The Lady Toppers will continue C-USA play next Sunday at 1 p.m. when they host Louisiana Tech (8-0-1) at the WKU Soccer Complex.

Last season, Louisiana Tech defeated the Lady Toppers 2-1 in Ruston, Louisiana, on September 23, 2018.

Reporter Elliott Wells can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Elliott on Twitter at @ewells5.