Soccer team heads to Texas for SBC Tournament

Morning soccer practice at Smith Stadium on Tuesday, Oct 22.

Jonah Phillips

The Lady Topper soccer team enters this week’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament as the No. 1 seed after claiming their second regular-season conference title last weekend.

Coach Jason Neidell said it felt great to come out of the regular season on top, despite losing their final Sun Belt match against Georgia State and winning just two of their last five games.

“It’s something to be excited about,” Neidell said. “I know that the last few weeks the girls haven’t been pleased with the way that they have been playing.”

The Lady Toppers (8-5-5, 6-2-0 Sun Belt Conference) head to San Marcos, Texas for Wednesday’s first round matchup against No. 8 UALR (4-13-0, 1-7-0 SBC).

The game pits the Lady Toppers against a team they not only beat 1-0 nearly two weeks ago, but that they’ve also defeated in the teams’ last eight regular season meetings since 2006.   

“We need to get back to work,” Neidell said. “Now we have a big target on our backs, so we have got to get back to work to win this conference tournament.”

WKU has won its last three quarterfinal matches in the Sun Belt Tournament and holds an all-time record of 9-2-1 in the opening round.

Wednesday’s winner will advance to the semifinals on Friday. The Lady Toppers and Neidell know this place very well, having made it to the Sun Belt semifinals five times in the past six seasons.  Either WKU or UALR will face the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between hosting team No. 4 Texas State and No. 5 Troy.

The Lady Toppers have had success against both teams — they snagged a 1-0 victory against the Lady Bobcats on Oct. 6 and another against Troy 1-0 on Oct. 11.

The Sun Belt Conference Championship will be played Sunday, Nov. 10, and should WKU advance to Sunday’s title game, WKU PBS will air the championship match on Channels 11 and 917 in the Bowling Green area.

Despite having played in finals in both 2008 and 2011, the Lady Toppers are seeking their first SBC Tournament title. This would result in the program’s first bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Neidell said the Lady Toppers have a plan for the tournament.

“We are going to work on attacking — we are going to be a better attacking team in a week and a half,” he said.

Live video of every Sun Belt Conference Tournament match will be provided by the league at First touch for WKU’s matchup against UALR is set for 4 p.m.