Lady Topper senior midfielder leaves behind legacy of competitive spirit

 Senior midfielder Allie Auscherman attempts to steal the ball from an opposing player during the WKU vs. Tennessee game on Sept. 5. Brandon Carter/HERALD

John Reecer

In the closing seconds of the Lady Toppers’ 2014 season, with WKU trailing by a goal in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, one player was inches away from keeping WKU’s season alive.

 Senior midfielder Allie Auscherman won a ball served into the opponent’s box by freshman midfielder Nahyo Jalajel and placed a clean header toward the left corner of the net, which would have served as the game’s equalizer with No. 7-seed WKU trailing No. 2-seed Rice, 1-0. However, the opposing goalkeeper found herself in a position to halt the Lady Toppers’ last-ditch effort.

 Despite the outcome, Auscherman closed out her career the same way she started it — with unparalleled competitiveness until the very end.  

 “The legacy that she will leave behind for the team is her competitiveness,” Head Coach Jason Neidell said. “She is somebody that, in the last four years, we have built our blue-collar attitude around. She is going to leave that legacy behind for our program.”

 This consistency and competitiveness allowed Auscherman to appear in 80 games, which is three matches shy of the all-time record, and log more than 5,500 minutes for the Lady Toppers. She also ended her career as 10th all-time on the Lady Toppers career starts list with 60.

“My work ethic and my energy have helped lead to my long career,” Auscherman said. “Every game, I’m always trying to do what I can for my teammates and to keep the energy up throughout the game.”

 Auscherman’s presence as a midfielder stifled opponents throughout her career. She played the position with physicality. Her vocal command at the position aided the Lady Toppers on the offensive and defensive side of the ball as she regularly put her teammates in great positions to make plays.

“She is a holding midfielder for us which basically means her job is to be a physical presence and ball winner in the midfield,” Neidell said. “Also, she must help connect the team from back to front and side to side.”

Not only is Auscherman tenacious on the field, her competitive nature shows in the classroom. The senior is one of three Lady Toppers to be named to Conference USA’s All-Academic Teams this season. She received first-team honors having accumulated a 3.96 GPA.

“I think that she does a very good job of just seeing the big picture,” Neidell said. “She has a very mature perspective. When she got here as a freshman she just knew her little world, now she understands how to be a good teammate. She understands the demands and the behind the scenes stuff that lead to being a successful college student-athlete.”

 Her senior year on the Hill presented Auscherman with the challenge of being the lone senior on the team. To make things even more challenging, she found herself surrounded by only three other upperclassmen.

 “She really invested herself in the process of becoming a better leader over this past summer as she read at least one leadership book,” Neidell said. “She knew that she would have to provide an example for this young team as both a mentor and as a fierce competitor.”

 For Auscherman, this test proved not to be too challenging. The team came together to orchestrate a winning record in its first season in a challenging conference.

 As the last season of her career came to an end, Auscherman did not disappoint on the field. According to Neidell, she played her best soccer of her career with the season on the line.

 “I think the sign of a really mature leader is somebody who is able to compete at the highest level when the team needs her most,” Neidell said. “We have seen, as her career dwindles down, that she wants to savor every minute of it by giving it everything she has.”

 As for Auscherman, she just hopes her play has left behind a legacy of competitiveness for years to come.

“I hope I leave a good mark behind,” Auscherman said. “Overall, I have had a great experience, and I have had great teammates, and I have played on really good teams here. I just hope the mark that I left behind here is that I played with a good work ethic and a lot of pride for this program.”