Despite shaky start, Lady Tops excited for new season

WKU’s Nicole Roseland (33) battles to get the ball away from University of Tennessee-Martin’s Zara Musker (5) during the Lady Topper’s 3-1 win over UTM in the season opener Friday, Aug. 21, 2015, at the WKU Soccer Complex in Bowling Green, Ky.

John Reecer

Despite dropping a 4-0 decision to Miami of Ohio on Sunday, the Lady Topper soccer team picked up its first win of the season on Friday in WKU’s opener against Tennessee-Martin. 

After finishing last season with a 10-8 record, the WKU soccer team heads into the 2015-2016 season with renewed confidence as the team returns all but one starter from last season. 

Despite not earning a victory in two exhibition matches, which included a 2-0 loss to Xavier and a 1-1 tie against Northern Kentucky University, Head Coach Jason Neidell remains optimistic about the team’s performance in the preseason. 

“We have had a wonderful preseason,” Neidell said. “The girls worked extremely hard and the team has really come together.”

The Lady Toppers spent most of August in preseason camp, which consisted of two-a-day practices for the majority of the month. Practices featured attention to technique, schemes, team bonding and physical conditioning.

The team spent a large amount of time building team chemistry with a new group of freshmen, which will be crucial to the team’s success on the year. The freshmen include goalkeeper Keely Vincent, midfielder Megan Morris, midfielder Ellie Young, forward Katie Strand, forward Hannah Cady, midfielder Cailin Regan and forward Nicole Roseland.

“The freshmen have also really been welcomed nicely,” Neidell said. “The upperclassmen have done a great job bringing the freshmen into the pull and the freshmen have really stepped up their intensity level.”

Cady is one freshman in particular who is making her presence known on the Hill quickly, bagging a goal and an assist in the season opener.  

“Hannah Cady was extraordinary against UT-Martin,” Neidell said. “She really was the difference in the game.”

One aspect that the Lady Tops need to improve on is overall team leadership which is critical to any team’s success or failure during the season. 

“Senior defender Chandler Clark has really stepped up and became our team leader. Our sophomore goalkeeper Allison Leone is our other team captain, but we really need to see more leadership on the field,” Neidell said. “I think we didn’t see enough leadership last year, and you can’t just depend on your captains to be the only ones providing leadership.”

Lack of leadership is one area in which the Lady Tops struggled with last season as the team proved to be inconsistent in conference play, posting a 5-5 record in Conference USA. 

However, with a positive preseason under their belts and a season opening victory that featured three goals from three different players, the team is ready to make their name known. 

“Overall, our preseason went pretty well,” junior forward Iris Dunn said. “Everyone worked really hard and we gelled really well together. We still have some kinks to work out as a team and that’s expected this early. We must continue to get better and grow as a team.”