Valparaiso poses ‘real challenges’ to Lady Toppers

WKU’s midfielder Hannah Chua (2) attempts to steal the ball from Miami Universities defender Tori Christiansen (2) during WKU’s 0-4 loss to Miami on Sunday Aug. 23, 2015 at the WKU Soccer Complex is Bowling Green, Ky.

Hunter Frint

The Lady Toppers soccer team will take on Valparaiso University this Sunday at WKU’s Preston Complex. The team is coming off a win on the road over Stephen F. Austin this past weekend. 

Last weekend the Lady Toppers (2-2) took part in the Battle on the Bayou tournament in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

The first game saw WKU clash with host school LSU. The Lady Toppers went up early thanks to an Iris Dunn goal and went into halftime with a 1-0 lead. The Lady Toppers were undone in the second half, though, and gave up four second-half goals, losing 4-1.   

The Lady Toppers rebounded with a 1-0 win against Stephen F. Austin thanks to a Haley Baldridge goal, and they look to carry that momentum into their third home match of the season this weekend against Valparaiso.  

WKU is 1-1 this season at Preston Complex. It won its season opener against Tennessee-Martin, 3-1, before falling the same weekend to Miami of Ohio.  

This weekend’s opponent will pose a different kind of challenge than WKU’s previous home opponents presented.

Tennessee-Martin of the Ohio Valley Conference and Miami of Ohio of the Mid-America Conference did not win their respective leagues in 2014. 

“We’re playing the team that won the Horizon League last year,” Head Coach Jason Neidell said. “We expect some real challenges against Valparaiso.”  

Tennessee-Martin finished fourth in the OVC regular season last year while Miami of Ohio finished second in the MAC.  

“[Valparaiso is] going to be a real quality opponent,” Neidell said. “Kind of the goal for us is to make sure we’re growing and getting better every day.”

Neidell said he hoped this season’s schedule would challenge the Lady Toppers.

“We’ve put together a really good schedule this season,” Neidell said. “I mean, we started with UT-Martin who’s been kind of the perennial lead—the dominant team in the Ohio Valley Conference—and then we played Miami of Ohio.” 

Some opponents have proved a challenge for Lady Topper soccer; while the team’s overall record stands at 2-2, its goal differential sits at -4 with five goals scored but nine goals conceded. 

Neidell said he wants his squad to learn from each game and use the lessons to gain ground in the season.

Valparaiso (1-2) hasn’t played any home games yet this season and carries a goal-to-shot ratio of 2-11.  Its goal-per-game average sits at .67 for the season.

This team could pose a large challenge for the Lady Toppers this weekend at home. 

Last weekend Valparaiso beat Miami of Ohio by two goals and kept a clean sheet against a team that scored four against the Lady Toppers in Bowling Green.

“We’ll be focusing on just kind of trying to square up what we’re doing defensively,” Neidell said. “And work on that final piece which is a little bit more of what we want to do on the attack side of the ball.”

The game against Valparaiso is set for kickoff at 1 p.m. this Sunday at Preston Complex.