Lady Tops to take on Southern Miss. tonight

Tyler Mansfield

The WKU women’s soccer team returns to Conference-USA action Thursday night at as they will take on the University of Southern Mississippi at the WKU Soccer Complex.

The Lady Toppers (6-3-0 overall, 1-0-0 C-USA) opened their league slate with a hard-fought 1-0 win in Huntington, West Virginia, against Marshall University last Thursday before grabbing a 3-0 win down I-65 South in Nashville versus Belmont to close out non-conference play.

WKU, having been victorious in five out of its last six contests, will be looking to keep its hot-streak going entering the halfway mark of the season.

“We’ve been stingy defensively,” Head Coach Jason Neidell said. “I mean, we’ve had two-straight C-USA Defensive Player of the Weeks in Olivia Fitzgerald and Makenzie Costner. We’re very good defensively. We minimize our opponents’ chances.”

Neidell was also was pleased with his team as they managed to open up conference play with a win on the road.

“It feels pretty good,” Neidell said. “Road wins are hard to come by.”

The Golden Eagles (5-2-0, 0-1-0 C-USA) enter Bowling Green following a 3-0 shutout loss in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, against league foe Louisiana Tech University.

Before the setback, Southern Miss closed out its nonconference schedule with an 8-0 shutout victory over Southern University at home.

“We’re playing a highly motivated team,” Neidell stated about Southern Miss. “They unfortunately lost their home conference opener to Louisiana Tech, so we’ll see a team that wants to win.”

The Golden Eagles, who are currently in ninth place in C-USA standings, are paced by sophomore forward Bri Schuback.

On the year, Schuback has found the back of the net four times for eight total points on nine shots. With that success, the sophomore also holds a .444 shot percentage and has been the offensive leader for her club.

On the defensive side of the ball, senior goalkeeper Brittany Taylor leads Southern Miss. The experienced net defender has saved 34 shots so far on the season and holds a save percentage of .872 in 562:05 minutes played.

As for the Lady Tops, freshman forward Chandler Backes leads the offensive attack.

Backes, a Carmel, Indiana, native, has scored eight goals so far on the season, which ranks her first in all of C-USA. On top of that, the versatile player is tied for first among all Division I freshmen with that same number of goals scored.

Along with the goals, Backes has a shot percentage of .421 and a shots on goal percentage of .579 with her 17 points.

On the defensive side of things, junior goalkeeper Allison Leone does the net protecting for WKU. Leone has made 23 saves for a save percentage of .793 in 727.40 minutes played. Her high save number ranks her seventh in the league in that category.

Following Thursday’s meeting with Southern Miss, the Lady Tops will have a week off before hitting the road for a 7 p.m. CDT contest at Rice University on Friday, Sept. 30 in Houston.

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