Lady Toppers kick off exhibition games at home

Hunter Frint

Exhibition games, new talent and solid returning players are all part of the WKU women’s soccer team’s game plan to prep for the upcoming fall season.

The Lady Toppers’ first two home exhibition games of the spring were played against Troy University and Morehead State last Saturday at 10 a.m. and noon.

The team dropped the first game against Troy 1-0 after the Trojans capitalized on a corner kick in the second half of the game.

In the second game, WKU came back and produced a 3-1 win against Morehead State. WKU Head Coach Jason Neidell said he felt like the team was stronger, more athletic and more technical than Morehead State.

“The spring is obviously exhibition, but we really feel like it is preseason for the fall of 2016,” Neidell said. “We’re really excited about some of the developments that have been achieved.”

Neidell gave credit for the action to both new and returning players. One new transfer this season is a defensive player from Arkansas: senior defender Dee Dee Green.

Redshirt sophomore midfielder Sarah Gorham was another newer player who stood out to the coach during the exhibitions. Gorham was on the team last season but sat out with a torn ACL.

“Two of our steadiest and best players this spring are players who didn’t play for us in the fall,” Neidell said. “They’ve both been really, really good this spring, and it’s kind of a good sign for the fall that we’ve added two really dynamic players without getting to the freshmen yet.”

Familiar faces that Neidell said shone during exhibition include senior forward Iris Dunn, junior defensive forward Shayna Dheel, junior defensive player Nahyo Jalajel and senior defensive player Makenzie Costner.

As of Feb. 8, WKU soccer had six signees who include forward-defender Chandler Backes of Indiana, midfielder Christina Bragado of California, Floridian defender Kaylyn Bryant, forward Bowling Green native Erin Jones, defender Aleksandra Kozovic from Serbia and goalkeeper Jenna Rohlin of New York.

As for how the team plans to spend the next few months prepping for the fall semester, Neidell said they are trying to figure out ways to create more chances to score goals and be more dangerous.

He added that their offensive game is what they will have to get better at to be a contender for the championship in the fall.

“We ended [last] fall doing a really good job controlling the tempo of games and dictating the rhythm, and I think so far this spring we’ve been really good at kind of developing our attack and possession of the soccer ball,” Neidell said.

Next, the Lady Toppers will travel to Cookeville, Tennessee, to compete against Tennessee Tech and then Carson Newman University on Saturday, April 9, in two more exhibition games.