Soccer team looks to stay sharp in trip to Arkansas

Jonah Phillips

The WKU soccer team will play two of its final three away games this season as the Lady Toppers look to finish strong.

WKU (7-3-4, 5-0-0 Sun Belt Conference) has four more games, including just one home game on Oct. 25.

This weekend’s matchups will pit a Lady Topper squad that is perched comfortably atop the Sun Belt Conference with 15 points — having blanked all five of their conference opponents thus far — against Arkansas State (7-6-2, 2-3-0 SBC) on Friday and Arkansas-Little Rock (4-10-0, 1-4-0 SBC) on Sunday.

Arkansas State is coming off a road loss against Louisiana-Lafayette and is tied for fifth in the conference with Troy and Georgia State with six points apiece.

While the Lady Toppers have scored a total of seven goals in conference play so far this year, the ASU back line, led by sophomore goalkeeper Amanda Lee, have only allowed seven total goals since the start of conference play. The Lady Red Wolves have only scored in two of their Sun Belt games so far, though.

WKU will look to take advantage of the Red Wolves defense and a shaky offense in order to maintain its status as top dog in the conference.

Freshman forward Iris Dunn said the Lady Toppers are looking to improve after picking up two 1-0 wins last weekend.

“We didn’t necessarily play our best, but we found a way to get the job done,” Dunn said. “We really just need to continue to work on finishing that final pass, but for now we have got the job done.”

Sunday will offer the Lady Topper squad their last away conference matchup against UALR. The Lady Trojans have struggled this year, with their only win coming against Louisana-Monroe, who currently sits at the bottom of the Sun Belt rankings.

The Lady Trojans have allowed six goals since conference play began, and only have scored three goals.

Senior soalkeeper Nora Abolins and a stout backline have not allowed a goal in 575:03 minutes of play, and since entering conference play on the Sept. 27, the attacking third has really found their stride.

“Across the back we are athletic — more athletic than the forwards we’re playing, but across the board our organization has been solid,” coach Jason Neidell said. “But it’s not just the defense — it’s the forwards and the goalie and the midfield that help shut out opponents, and I think our athleticism is really paying dividends in conference play.”  

The Lady Topper offense has been hot lately, in stark contrast with the start of the season. WKU has scored seven goals in the last five games, but had just three in the five games before that.

Much of this offensive spark can be attributed to Dunn, who has accounted for four goals this season, three of which have come in conference play.  Dunn is tied for first place in goals in the Sun Belt this season with South Alabama’s Clarissa Hernandez and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Yazmen Montoya.

“We’ve been working a lot in practice on getting an upper hand on the attack, through transition,” Dunn said. Her last goal against Troy was scored in transition.

First touches for both Arkansas matches this weekend are set for 1 p.m.