Lady Toppers set for weekend trip to Texas

Senior forward Iris Dunn (12) sprints toward the ball during the Lady Toppers’ 3-0 win over Belmont Saturday, Sept. 17, at Rose Park in Nashville. Kathryn Ziesig/HERALD

Tyler Mansfield

The WKU women’s soccer team continues Conference USA play this weekend on the road in Texas, as it faces Rice University Friday night and the University of North Texas Sunday afternoon.

The Lady Toppers (7-3-0 overall, 2-0-0 C-USA) opened their league slate with two victories this season, as they defeated Marshall University, 1-0 Sept. 15 and then grabbed a 1-0 win over the University of Southern Mississippi in their home C-USA opener back on Thursday, Sept. 22.

WKU has opened conference action with 180 minutes of scoreless defense in the two matches it has played.

On top of that, the Lady Tops have recorded four-straight consecutive shutouts and have a shutout streak of 443 minutes, as the club hasn’t allowed a goal since the sixth minute against Louisiana State University Thursday, Sept. 8.

Riding that four-match winning streak and being tied for first place with two other opponents (North Texas, the University of Charlotte), WKU will have its hands full against two dominant Texas teams on its trip to the Lonestar State.

The Owls (4-3-1, 1-1-0 C-USA) are coming off a 4-0, shutout victory at Louisiana Tech University. In the win, Rice outshot the Bulldogs, 11-4 en route to the check in the win column.

Dual-threat senior defender Jenny Fichera leads the Owls’ offensive attack. Fichera has started and played in each game this season and has scored twice on 13 shots and assisted four times for a total of eight points.

On defense, freshman goalkeeper Samantha Colley is the steady net protector. Colley has played 564:37 total minutes this year and has made 33 saves with a save percentage of .805. The 6-foot-1 threat holds a 4-2-1 record when in goal.

Friday, the Lady Tops will meet the defending C-USA champion Mean Green (7-3-1, 2-0-0 C-USA) who are 5-0-0 at home this year. They have won two-straight games as the program picked up a 2-1 win at Rice back on Sunday, Sept. 18 before beating Marshall, 3-1 last Thursday on their home field.

North Texas is paced by senior forward Rachel Holden. On the season, Holden has been able to score eight goals on 28 shots for 18 total points. The scoring threat has also recorded two assists and has netted three times to win a match.

On the opposite side of the ball, sophomore goalkeeper Brooke Bradley leads the charge. Bradley has made 47 saves for a save percentage of .839 in 902:26 minutes tallied on the 2016 campaign. Her high save number ranks her fifth in the conference while she sits at third the save percentage category.

In its last outing versus the Golden Eagles, WKU struggled to find an offensive rhythm for a bit, but freshman forward Chandler Backes was able to find the back of the net in the25th minute to score the eventual game-winner.

Backes, who has been able to score nine goals this season for 19 points on just 20 shots, currently leads all of C-USA in that category and is first among all freshmen with the tally.

On the defensive side of the ball for the Lady Tops, the unit has been hard to score on this season, especially in the last month.

Over the last three weeks, WKU has seen one of its own named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week, as senior defender Olivia Fitzgerald was given the honor Monday, Sept. 12 with senior defender Makenzie Costner receiving the honor Monday, Sept. 19 and most recently sophomore midfielder Nicole Roseland on Monday.

WKU and Rice are scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m. in Houston while the Lady Tops are set to meet North Texas in Denton at 1 p.m. 

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