WKU’s season comes to an end in C-USA semifinal against Charlotte

WKU soccer players huddled up prior to kickoff against Charlotte on Friday, April 9, 2021. 

Ian Fleischman

The Lady Toppers (8-2-2) season came to an end on Thursday evening losing 2-0 in the Conference USA semifinal match to Charlotte (6-5). This is WKU’s second consecutive C-USA postseason exit coming by the hands of the 49ers. 

“They left everything they had on the field tonight,” head coach Jason Neidell said. “It wasn’t our night, it was Charlotte’s night. I’m just incredibly proud of student-athletes and they’ve done some things that no other team has been able to do since we’ve been in Conference USA.”

WKU won the C-USA East Divisional title for the first time since joining C-USA and posted a 4-0-2 record in league play. Neidell said The Lady Toppers will have both of their seniors returning to the pitch in the next season following the loss to Charlotte. But WKU will also have its younger players back too this fall.

{{tncms-inline account=”Todd Stewart” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Proud of everything <a href="https://twitter.com/WKUsoccerman?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WKUsoccerman</a>, his staff and the <a href="https://twitter.com/WKU_Soccer?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WKU_Soccer</a> team accomplished this season! First conference title since 2013 and a 10 match unbeaten streak in a season unlike any other! Well done!! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoTops?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoTops</a></p>— Todd Stewart (@ToddStewartWKU) <a href="https://twitter.com/ToddStewartWKU/status/1382838426773434377?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">April 15, 2021</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/ToddStewartWKU/status/1382838426773434377″ type=”twitter”}}

“The freshmen and sophomores have been outstanding,” Neidell said. “It’s a youth movement and they set a higher standard for the program this season.

WKU was without junior midfielder Ambere Barnett for the second game due to an injury against Charlotte last week on April 9. Neidell said it was unfortunate to not have their top scorer who was named C-USA player and Midfielder of the Year prior to the tournament.  

Junior midfielder Michaela Arteta was the hero for Charlotte scoring on a penalty kick in the 71st minute to seal the win for the 49ers.

Charlotte’s shots on net were precise and had a 50% accuracy on scoring. Overall, the 49ers had an accuracy of 33% with their attempted shots on net. 

Charlotte led in saves 3-2 and shots on net 4-3. WKU led in shots attempted 13-6 and corners 6-1. The Lady Toppers scoring chances weren’t enough to muster a goal against the 49ers. 

Freshman midfielder Annah Hopkins had the first scoring opportunity for The Lady Toppers in the semifinal match at the 11th minute, but senior goalkeeper Abby Stapleton was there for the save. 

Freshman midfielder Piper Biziorek attempted Charlotte’s first shot on goal at the 14th minute, and sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Kobylinski was there to snag it for her first save of the game. 

Redshirt senior midfielder Sophie Sipprell came up with the first goal of the game at the 16th minute off a corner kick, but it did not count due to a foul on the play. 

Biziorek struck first for Charlotte at the 31st minute to take an early 1-0 lead.

WKU’s next scoring attempt came from sophomore forward Katie Erwin’s corner kick. Junior defender Lyric Schmidt hit the crossbar at the 41st minute prior to halftime. 

After 45 minutes of play, Charlotte led in saves 2-1. WKU led in shots 5-3 and corners 2-1. Both teams were tied 2-2 with shots on goal.

It was a tight match in the first half in terms of shots on goal and shots taken. Both teams were performing well on defense, but Charlotte was looking to have the upperhand on offense scoring one time off of their two shots on goal. 

Arteta scored on a penalty kick at the 71st minute to extend Charlotte’s lead 2-0. Arteta’s score gives her four on the season.

The theme of the second half was Charlotte continuing to dominate on offense. WKU led in attempted shots 12-6, but none of their shots could find the back of the net. 

Charlotte held on to win 2-0 over WKU and now will go on to play in the Championship match on Saturday at noon.

Neidell said he was incredibly proud of the student athletes when asked about his thoughts on the team following the loss.

Soccer beat reporter Ian Fleischman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ian_fleischman.