WKU Soccer splits road games to open season

Sophomore forward Chandler Backes (5) takes a shot on goal against Morehead State’s goalie Eva Yr Helgadottir (1) during WKU’s 2-0 victory Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016, at the WKU Soccer Complex. Evan Boggs/HERALD

Casey McCarthy

The Lady Toppers soccer team looked to build off a strong 2016 campaign as they began the 2017 regular season over the weekend on the fifth-longest road trip in program history by mileage.

The Lady Toppers (1-1) opened the regular season against Lipscomb on Friday evening before traveling to play the University of Texas on Sunday afternoon.

WKU kicked off the regular season with a 2-0 shut out victory over Lipscomb in Nashville.

Freshman forward Tally Bishop scored her first collegiate goal off of assists from sophomore Chandler Backes and senior Hannah Chua less than five minutes into the contest. Bishop would return the favor in the second half, assisting Backes’ shot in the 64th minute.

Bishop’s goal marks the third straight season a true freshman has scored for WKU in a season opener, following Hannah Cady and Backes in 2015, and Kaylyn Bryant last year.

This is the sixth meeting between the two programs, with WKU holding a perfect 6-0 record in the series against the Bisons. Shots were an even 14-14, in attempts, but the Lady Toppers held a significant edge in shots on goal, 8-3, thanks in large part to the team defense.

Allison Leone recorded her 23rd career solo shutout, playing the full 90 minutes with three saves. Kate Mason played between the posts for Lipscomb, finishing with six saves, three in each half.

WKU followed up the season-opening win with a road trip to Texas on Sunday, falling 2-0 at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

Goalkeeper Allison Leone finished the game with nine saves, just two shy of her career-best mark. The Longhorns held a strong advantage in overall shots 21-1 (14 in the first half), with an 11-0 edge in shots on goal.

Amber Stearns opened up the scoring for the Longhorns in the first half, knocking in a header 19 minutes in. Emily Strouphauer would double the lead a few minutes before the half with a blast from outside the box.

The Lady Toppers were unable to convert their only attempt, a shot by Nicole Roseland in the second half.

The Lady Toppers will travel to face Austin Peay next Friday. WKU is 7-0-1 against the Lady Govs all time, including an overtime victory last year. The Lady Toppers will then make their home debut this season against UT Martin on Sunday, Aug. 27 at the WKU Soccer Complex. Admission is free for all fans of WKU Soccer for the 2017 season.

WKU finished its preseason stint 0-2, falling 4-0 at Saint Louis on Friday, Aug. 11, and 2-0 Sunday, Aug. 13, against Murray State.

WKU returns six starters from a team that finished 12-6-1 in 2016 and reached the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament, before falling to eventual champion Charlotte.

The Lady Toppers return their leading scorer from last season in the sophomore forward Backes (10 goals, 1 assist ), along with preseason All C-USA pick, junior Nicole Roseland, acting as a anchor in the defensive midfield. Senior Allison Leone returns in goal, already second in school history in solo shutouts (22) and career goals against average (0.99).

Other key returnees include redshirt junior Sarah Gorham (four goals, four assists), senior Bria Mosley (4 goals, 1 assist), senior Hannah Chua (two goals, one assist), and sophomore Christina Bragado (one goal, one assist).

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