Memphis stands as last non-conference threat

WKU’s defender Makenzie Costner (25) drives the ball down the field during the Lady Toppers’ 3-1 win over University of Tennessee-Martin in the season opener Aug. 21 at the WKU Soccer Complex. William Kolb/HERALD

Hunter Frint

The Lady Topper soccer team will end its non-conference portion of the 2015 schedule with a home match against the University of Memphis this Friday.

WKU (3-2-2) is coming into the game feeling confident after a productive two-game Georgia road swing. The team took home a win against Mercer (1-0) and a tie against undefeated Georgia State (1-1) thanks to sophomore attacking midfielder Hannah Chua, who netted both goals for WKU over the weekend.

Lady Topper Head Coach Jason Neidell, who is in his 15th season at the helm of the Lady Topper program, spoke positively about the results his team has been putting forth as the non-conference slate draws to a close. 

Neidell said these results are what they hope to see from the team moving into conference play. 

“I told the kids after the game [vs. Georgia State] that this would be a really good faux-conference road weekend if we were able to get away and get a win and a tie,” Neidell said. “At the very least, [these results] would be a good conference weekend for us, so I was really happy — happy to hit the road and do exactly what we did this weekend.”

Leading up to this final non-conference game against regional rival Memphis, the Lady Toppers have been on a multi-game double-overtime streak. Matches against Valpo, Mercer and Georgia State have all gone into overtime with two of the three games resulting in a draw.

The Lady Toppers had to fight hard against Mercer and Georgia State to stay undefeated on the weekend, and that type of environment and mentality is exactly what Neidell wants the team to carry into conference competition. 

Neidell referenced the dedication seen in teams like Valparaiso as something for his squad to learn from.

All the lessons Neidell hopes his squad has absorbed are due in part to the design of the non-conference schedule.  

“In general, it was a really tough road swing this weekend, and it was a road trip that we scheduled on purpose because we felt like it was a similar road trip to what we would find when we got to conference play,” Neidell said.

Memphis (4-1-1) will be traveling to Bowling Green after a high-scoring, double-overtime home win against Idaho (3-4-0). The Tigers won 4-3 and racked up 21 shots to Idaho’s nine. Valerie Sanderson scored a brace for half of Memphis’ goals in the contest.

Freshman forward Marie Lavasseur is someone to watch out for as well after she pulled in one goal and two assists against Idaho. The team scores an average of 1.5 goals per game. 

“I think if we can build off of what we did [against Georgia State] and continue to play with the same intensity, that’s kind of the biggest thing going into Friday and into conference play.”

The game will take place at the WKU Soccer Complex on Sept. 18 beginning at 6:00 p.m.

“We’ve built a schedule that is really almost a hellacious schedule. We’ve got to learn to compete day in and day out to prepare ourselves for conference,” said Neidell.