Lady Toppers fight in two double-overtime contests

WKU’s midfielder Hannah Chua (2) and her teammates celebrate after Chua scored the first goal of the season for the Lady Toppers during their 3-1 win over University of Tennessee-Martin in the season opener Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, at the WKU Soccer Complex in Bowling Green, Ky.

Hunter Frint

The WKU soccer team returns to Bowling Green this weekend with a win and a draw from its Georgia road swing. 

The Lady Toppers (3-2-2) grabbed a 1-0 win over Mercer in Macon before drawing 1-1 against an undefeated Georgia State team in Atlanta. 

Game One:

In the Lady Toppers’ Friday contest at Mercer, WKU once again endured a match that went into multiple periods of overtime.  

“We were just trying to find ourselves through the course of the game and never really could. We just couldn’t develop a rhythm to our game,” Neidell said. “It was a very difficult game for our kids. Not necessarily anything Mercer did.”

In the dying embers of the game, with roughly 30 seconds plus stoppage time left, sophomore midfielder Hannah Chua came up with a goal to produce the result for Head Coach Jason Neidell’s squad. 

“We kind of just shot ourselves in the foot a little bit, but we scored a spectacular goal with 25 seconds left in the game,” Neidell said. “That was really great to see things not going well but our team sticking together to find a way to win.”

The loss brought Mercer’s record to 1-4-2.

The game was stagnant in offensive production, with WKU and Mercer combining for 14 shots and a 0-0 scoreline at the conclusion of regulation. 

The first period of overtime saw WKU on its heels for long spells. The Lady Tops were out-shot 3-1, but the score remained 0-0.  

It wasn’t until the last offensive surge of the game for WKU that Chua notched the second game-winner of her career. She netted one last season versus Evansville.

The Lady Toppers racked up 19 shots total on Friday—the most shots in any contest this season. 

“It was pretty evenly matched; it was highly contested,” Neidell said. “It was an even game, pretty much back and forth. We missed some chances. They missed some chances. It was a competitive game for sure.” 

Game Two:

Heading to Atlanta, the Lady Toppers took on an undefeated (5-0-1) Georgia State that was coming off a 3-0 win over Alabama A&M just two days prior.  

Georgia State came in quickly and skillfully when senior forward Ashley Nagy made a quick strike in the 10th minute, causing the ball to sail just out of reach for WKU keeper Allison Leone.  

The Lady Toppers were not deterred by Georgia State jumping to an early lead. 

The second half made the difference for WKU when Caitlin Hesse assisted Chua in the 79th minute for the equalizing goal.  This brought Chua’s goal-scoring record to three on the season and tied for most goals scored with junior forward Iris Dunn. 

“Over the course of the weekend, I thought Caitlin Hesse was very good in both games and so was Haley Baldridge,” Neidell said. “Obviously Hannah Chua was fantastic.”

Chua’s goal brought the score up to 1-1, where it stayed through the end and into a double overtime—WKU’s third after games with Mercer and Valparaiso.

“Georgia State was a really, really good soccer team. Today was a really great soccer game between two good teams. It was the best game we’ve played all season,” Neidell said. 

It wasn’t just the level of play WKU brought to the table that impressed Neidell; it was also the team’s balance and resilience. 

“We played a complete game, put together 110 minutes,” Neidell said. “It was really, really good to see us rise to the occasion after the game on Friday and really battle hard and play really well.”

 Georgia State outshot WKU 12-10, but each team offered four shots on goal. Chua put up three of the Lady Toppers’ four shots on goal up. 

“I think we found ourselves quite a bit today, and we laid a foundation of something that we can really build off of,” Neidell said.