Backes leads WKU to another convincing win

The Lady Toppers huddle up before their game against University of Evansville on Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017 at WKU Soccer Complex.

Casey McCarthy

The Lady Toppers soccer team (3-2) maintained their pressuring play from last week’s overtime win to defeat Evansville (2-4) 4-1 Sunday night, Sept. 3, at WKU Soccer Complex.

WKU has been looking to put the pressure on opposing teams this season, with relentless attacking into opposing team’s halves. Sophomore forward Chandler Backes continues to be a big piece of this formula, scoring twice Sunday evening to go with an assist, her second five-point game as a Lady Topper.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Backes said. “It’s such an honor to be with this program. To see how it’s been built and everything that’s happened.”

Backes pair of goals against the Purple Aces leaves her just one shy of 10th place in program history, as a sophomore.

“It’s to my teammates,” Backes said. “I wouldn’t have scored either of those goals today if it wasn’t for Hannah Chua playing that through ball in, or Deven [Jackson] playing a through ball. Without them, I’m nothing. It’s an awesome feeling, but it comes from the team.”

Backes led all players with five shots as WKU took the edge in the match 23-9, overall. Head coach Jason Neidell said they have been working with Backes on finding her edge, and said he felt she was successful today.

“I thought Chandler was pretty relentless today,” Neidell said. “She didn’t start tonight and I think coming off the bench was a little bit of a challenge for her and I think she was very gritting and found a way to make things happen for her team. And, obviously scored two goals, two great goals.”

The hero from last Sunday’s overtime victory against UT-Martin, freshman Ashley Leonard, opened the scoring for the Lady Toppers, scoring on her first touch in the 36th minute, less than 30 seconds after entering the match as a sub.

Leonard’s bicycle kick off Backes’ assist marks the second goal for the freshman in two games.

“She’s like wonder woman,” Neidell said. “I don’t know how she could score much quicker.”

Megan Morris would secure the final goal for the Lady Toppers in the evening, beating Evansville goalkeeper Michaela Till from 25 yards out in the 74th minute. Evansville was able to avoid the shutout, knocking a low shot past senior Allison Leone a minute later to put the Purple Aces on the board.

Neidell said it was good to get some players back from injury and get back in to the swing of things. He said the team’s performance in the second half Sunday evening was big coming into a tough weekend ahead.

“We’ve been struggling to create some chances,” Neidell said. “Last week, we really created a lot more and, tonight, we really hit our stride. I think they’re flying high and they feel good about themselves and that’s good going into next week.”

WKU will finish off its non-conference slate at home this upcoming weekend, facing Vanderbilt Friday, Sept. 8, at 6 p.m., before facing Samford on Sunday, Sept. 10, at 1 p.m.

Against Vanderbilt, the Lady Toppers will look for their first victory against a Power 5 Conference opponent since defeating Ole Miss in 2008 in overtime.

“It’ll be a huge game,” Backes said, on facing Vanderbilt. “I don’t think we’ve seen anything like that yet, even against Texas. This win definitely helps, and I think if we face every opponent like we did tonight, we can have a pretty good year.”

Reporter Casey McCarthy can be reached at (270)-929-7795 and email at [email protected]