Chua, Dunn at it again in C-USA opening

WKU’s forward Iris Dunn (12) attempts to steal the ball from Miami Universities midfielder Amy Malone (9) during WKU’s 0-4 loss to Miami on Sunday Aug. 23, 2015 at the WKU Soccer Complex is Bowling Green, Ky.

Hunter Frint

WKU started off Conference USA play at home this past weekend.

After starting league play with a 3-1 loss to Rice, the Lady Tops picked themselves up with a 1-0 victory over Louisiana Tech.

The conference schedule started for the Lady Toppers on Friday in the rain against 2014 C-USA champion Rice.

The Lady Toppers weren’t able to find a rhythm before Rice scored the game’s first goal just eight minutes into the contest.

Senior forward Holly Hargreaves secured the goal off of a deflected corner made by teammate senior Lauren Hughes.

Hughes showed why she was named the 2014 Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year with another goal at the 30th minute. 

At this point, the Lady Toppers began grinding towards halftime, hoping to regroup at the break. Before halftime, though, junior midfielder Madeleine Lundberg banged in Rice’s third and final goal in the 40th minute.

Despite being down three goals, WKU buckled down in the second half, and sophomore attacking midfielder Hannah Chua netted her fifth goal of the season in the 63rd minute.

“I thought we settled in in the second half and did a much better job,” Head Coach Jason Neidell said. “It wasn’t really any adjustments. It was just trying to get better mentally focused. I felt like we were just out of sorts for whatever reason.”

WKU keeper Allison Leone had her hands full all night and claimed a season-high seven saves off the Owls’ 18 shots, 10 of which were on goal.

“We felt like Rice was a team that, although they are defending conference champions, we felt like we should have played better against and could’ve gotten a better result from,” said Neidell. “We came out very flat in the first half, and I don’t have the answers to why we were very flat … They were just running harder and faster than us, beating us to all of the balls on our half of the field.”

The defensive mishaps the Lady Toppers encountered in the first league game were not replicated against La. Tech. WKU held a clean sheet in the 1-0 win.

La. Tech also came into the contest off a loss in a 2-1 decision against Old Dominion, so both La. Tech and WKU were searching for their first C-USA win.

After a goalless first half, junior forward Iris Dunn netted the contest’s lone goal in the 66th minute with a joint assist from Caitlin Hessee and Olivia Fitzgerald.

“I thought we played pretty well in the first half, and then [in] the second half, we kind of got away from what were doing — just kind of let off the gas a bit,” Dunn said. “Overall, I think we found a way to win and it was as good performance.”

The game-winning goal marked Dunn’s fifth goal of the season, keeping her on par with Chua and bumping her career total up to 18 goals.

This number leaves Dunn with the eighth-most career goals in program history.

The Lady Toppers are now 5-3-2 on the season and 1-1 in conference play.

“It feels really good to get our first conference win,” Chua said. “I think that we came out stronger coming off a loss from Friday. We knew that we needed to get our first win, so I think that the attitude was a little bit different.”