WKU soccer nabs postseason berth with 2-0 win at Southern Miss

WKU senior midfielder Allie Auscherman (21) advances the ball down field at the WKU vs UAB game on Oct. 19. Auscherman, the only senior on the team, was honored at the game as part of Senior Day. Jake Pope/HERALD

John Reecer

Despite a 1-0 road loss to LA Tech on Friday, WKU soccer clinched its first-ever Conference USA Tournament berth in its first season in the league with a 2-0 rebound victory against Southern Miss on Sunday.

The victory improves the Lady Toppers’ record to 10-6 on the season and 5-4 in conference play. WKU now sits in fifth place in the conference with 15 points — just one point shy of rival Middle Tennessee.

WKU’s 15 points clinches a postseason berth for the Lady Toppers, as the top eight teams in the conference make the tournament.

“This was such a big win for our program today,” Head Coach Jason Neidell said. “This team has made history being the first team in school history to make it into the Conference USA Tournament. It also says a lot they were able to do this in our first season as conference members.”

While Sunday’s win marks one of the more notable victories in program history, it wasn’t all fun and games for the Lady Toppers this weekend, as they dropped a 1-0 decision at LA Tech on Friday. 

LA Tech managed to play stifling defense against the Lady Toppers, limiting WKU to only five shots, two of which were on goal. The Lady Bulldogs scored the game’s lone goal off a header from a corner kick late in the first half. 

“Louisiana Tech is a team that just doesn’t lose on their small home field,” Neidell said. “They are very athletic, and they executed their game plan to perfection. Corner kicks have been a problem defensively for us all season and it showed today. We, as a coaching staff, have to change the way that the team defends it.” 

The match against LA Tech did prove to show some positives for the Lady Toppers. The Lady Bulldogs entered the match with the fourth-highest goal total in the nation (48), but the Lady Topper defense held them to one goal and just two shots on target.

Star forwards Iris Dunn and Lauren Moats led the team to its victory against Southern Miss as Dunn, a sophomore, scored in the 54th minute off a header. Moats, a junior, added to the lead in the 73rd minute off an assist from freshman midfielder Hannah Chua.

“Iris has really come along these past couple of weeks in conference play,” Neidell said. “She is an amazing competitor, and her toughness really rubs off on her teammates.”

The Lady Toppers will travel to Denton, Texas this Friday for their last regular season game against North Texas, who currently sits atop the conference standings at 7-1.

“We are looking forward to battling North Texas on Friday,” Dunn said. “A win against them will give us huge momentum heading into the conference tournament.”