WKU falls to Tennessee, rebounds against Evansville

WKU junior forward Lauren Moats moves the ball downfield during the WKU vs. University of Tennessee game on Sept. 5. The Lady Toppers lost 2-0 to the Lady Vols. Harrison Hill/HERALD

Haley Ruckman

The Lady Toppers welcomed Tennessee and Evansville to the WKU Soccer Complex this weekend, and although they dropped their first matchup with the Lady Vols on Friday, WKU rebounded for a victory over the Lady Aces on Sunday.

WKU (3-1) held a 6-4 shot attempt advantage through the first half of play on Friday, but Tennessee (2-2) fired off 13 shots to the Lady Toppers’ one in the second half en route to the 2-0 victory.

The difference for the Lady Vols came in the ninth and the 57th minute as Tennessee’s Hannah Wilkinson and Cheyenne Spade found the back of the net, respectively.

Wilkinson managed her goal on a breakaway that was assisted by Spade and she returned the favor on the next goal as she found Spade for a successful header.

The two Tennessee goals were the first two given up by freshman goalkeeper Allison Leone this season. She totaled four saved shot attempts in the game.

“We felt good about how we played even if it was a loss,” Head Coach Jason Neidell said. “Tennessee is a good team, and we played them hard the whole game.”

After a tough loss against Tennessee, WKU rebounded for a 2-0 win over Evansville in their third shutout of the season. WKU secured the win despite the Lady Aces’ 19-12 overall shot lead and 10-3 corner kick advantage.

Freshman midfielder Hannah Chua gave the Lady Toppers the lead at the 8:13 mark  with a dart from just outside the box, which marked her first career goal.

“We knocked it around a lot in the midfield and up to the forwards,” Chua said. “And when I got the ball I knew I wanted to shoot it, so I pushed into the space and I just hit it.”

A penalty kick by sophomore forward Iris Dunn in the 88th minute sealed the deal for the Lady Toppers. The penalty attempt was set up by an Evansville handball in the box.

Leone had five saved goals and recorded her third shutout of the season.

“It was hard to go down,” Chua said. “But we knew we wanted to get back on the winning track, and everyone came out and worked hard today.”

Neidell said the Lady Toppers were a bit fatigued in the second game of the weekend, but responded well nonetheless.

“I think the biggest thing is that we have a young team and we have to learn to play Friday and then turn around and play Sunday,” Neidell said. “…I felt like we gained confidence both games.”

WKU will be back in action on Friday in New Haven, Connecticut for the Yale Tournament.