Lady Tops earn two victories over weekend

Junior forward Bria Mosley (23) and Belmont’s defender Heather Ferrari (21) fight for the ball during WKU’s 3-0 win Saturday, Sept. 17 at Rose Park in Nashville. Kathryn Ziesig/HERALD

Tyler Mansfield

The WKU women’s soccer team played two road matches this weekend and returned home with positive outcomes from both.

The Lady Toppers (6-3-0, 1-0-0 C-USA) opened their Conference USA slate with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Marshall University on Thursday before grabbing a 3-0 victory on Saturday afternoon over Belmont University in their final non-conference outing.

With this pair of wins, WKU has now won five out of its last six matches.

Thursday, against the Thundering Herd, the two clubs went back and forth throughout the match before freshman forward Chandler Backes was able to score the deciding goal at the 83-minute mark to record her eighth goal of the season.

Backes, who entered the contest tied for the lead among all Division I freshmen with seven goals, outran her defender on the left side and caught Marshall’s junior goalkeeper, Emily Morehead, out of position before sending a shot past her into the far corner of the net.

Backes’ goal moved her into a tie for eighth place on WKU’s all-time single-season goalscoring list alongside former stars Jenna Silverberg, Kristin Cocchiarella and Mallory Outerbridge. She also leads all of C-USA in goals scored with eight in 2016.

The Lady Tops’ defense had a strong showing as they held Marshall to just two total shots on the night with just one of those on goal.

Both sides had just one shot on goal over the opening period. Sophomore midfielder Megan Morris broke free down the left sideline and found enough space to fire a strike for WKU at the seven minute mark, but Morehead was there for the save.

Junior goalkeeper Allison Leone saved an attempt from Marshall’s sophomore forward Ashley Seltzer just seven-minutes later, keeping the game scoreless heading into halftime.

The Lady Tops got two shots from senior forward Iris Dunn and junior defender Nahyo Jalajel early in the second half, but both wouldn’t sail through the net.

Dunn’s try at the 63-minute mark went just wide of the net while Jalajel’s shot at the 68-minute mark was cleared off the line by a Herd defender.

The scoreboard finally received its first change at the 82:01 mark when Backes found the back of the net to give WKU the one-goal lead.

Backes took a pass from redshirt sophomore midfielder Sarah Gorham, beat her defender around the left side of the box, and sent a strike past Morehead into the far post.

Sophomore midfielder Nicole Roseland almost doubled the score with just eight seconds remaining as her shot struck the crossbar, but the Lady Tops were still able to hold off Marshall and open league play with a win.

On Saturday, WKU kept its momentum going and added another checkmark to the win column thanks to a goal from junior midfielder Hannah Chua and a pair from junior forward Bria Mosley.

The Lady Tops held a 9-3 advantage in shots on goal against the Bruins while Mosley led all players with three shots on the evening. Junior forward Belicia Mendiola and sophomore midfielder Emily Whitcomb each had a pair for Belmont.

Leone tallied her third consecutive solo shutout of the year and the 16th of her career, collecting three saves while playing a full 90 minutes for WKU.

The Lady Tops have now shut out its last three opponents, their most since tallying five consecutive shutouts during the 2013 season.

On top of that, WKU has held its opponents without a goal since the seventh minute against Louisiana State University on Sept. 8 –– a streak of 353 minutes.

WKU started off strong with six shots in the first half compared to Belmont’s four. Chua, set up in the middle of the box, collected a pass from Dunn, who beat her defender and found her open teammate who then sent a strike into the back of the net to record her first goal of the year just 5:51 in.

The Lady Tops added to their lead at the 67:41 mark when Mosley had a ball come to her right foot and was able to kick it in after senior midfielder Haley Baldridge played in a cross from the right side. WKU controlled a 2-0 lead midway through the second period.

Mosley found the back of the net at the 80-minute mark to seal the deal. Junior defender Shayna Dheel created a one-on-one opportunity against Herman, waited for her to close and sent a low pass to Mosley on the left side who was able to send it home and help the Lady Tops complete a perfect weekend.

WKU returns to action with a C-USA tilt against the University of Southern Mississippi on Thursday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. at the WKU Soccer Complex. The Lady Tops and Golden Eagles have met just once all-time –– a 2-0 WKU win in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 2014.

Reporter Tyler Mansfield can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @ByMansfield.