Soccer seniors look to close careers with Sun Belt title

Demorestville, Ontario senior Nora Abolins runs through goalkeeper drills during morning soccer practice at Smith Stadium on Tuesday. 

Jonah Phillips

As WKU looks to clinch a Sun Belt Conference regular season title Friday night, the Lady Toppers will honor a group of nine seniors that have helped bring the program to new heights.

The graduating seniors have contributed to 56 of the 148 games WKU has won in program history, including 34 Sun Belt wins.

 Coach Jason Neidell said his seniors have been winners since the day they came to Bowling Green.

“This senior class has only known success since they’ve been here,” he said. “Really since 2007, our teams have come in and only had success. This class in particular have consistently come together and played well when it matters most.”

The seniors have logged a lot of time all over the field.

Defenders Torrie Lange and Stephanie Lindsey have built and maintained a back line in their time on the Hill that has accounted for 29 shutouts, with 21 against Sun Belt opponents since 2011.

Lindsey has started every game this season, and leads the squad in minutes with 1,232.  Friday will mark her 58th career start as a Lady Topper.

Lange has been the centerpiece to a back line that, along with senior transfer goalkeeper Nora Abolins, has blanked six of seven conference foes this season.  

Lange’s most dangerous aspect, though, may be her consistency. She has started every game for the Lady Toppers since the beginning of the 2011 season and even played in each game of her freshman campaign.

“We all have different leadership qualities,” Lange said. “This year, we have taken a little bit from everyone and added to the team chemistry and it has really come together.”

Neidell said his seniors have had such a good leadership impact on the Lady Toppers that they didn’t even need to elect team captains.

“We haven’t had captains this year — this is the first time in program history that we haven’t,” Neidell said. “What we have had is a leadership council instead, of which included a good chunk of the senior class. Each member has characteristics that, when you bring them together, complement each other well.”

Abolins, a transfer from Detroit-Mercy, made a strong first and last campaign in red and white. She leads the conference in shutouts this season with eight, and her 582:30 goalless streak from Sept. 20 to Oct. 18 is the second longest in program history.  

Forward Andrea Curry’s senior campaign has offered her a slew of different on-field positions. Her transition from back line to midfield sparked 11 goals in nine games for the squad.

Curry said she looks at her experience at every position as a strength that helps her teach the younger members of the team.

“I know a lot of players who struggle to find out where they fit in, and how they can help the team,” Curry said. “I think I can show that everyone is an essential part, no matter what position. I love that I can be versatile for the team. I love that I can give what the team needs in multiple positions. For me, that’s the most exciting part of the game.”

Senior midfielder Chrissy Tchoula has been an outspoken vocal leader this season. Paired with her versatility in the midfield position, she had a big hand in WKU’s eight shutouts this season as well as its offensive spark, tallying a team-high three assists on the season.

A victory in Friday’s game against GSU could lead the Lady Toppers to a regular season conference title.

Lange said she wants to end her home career with a win.

“I’ll never forget Western Kentucky University,” Lang said, “College is such a great experience and Western Kentucky is such a special place.  Being part of an intercollegiate athletics team has meant a lot to me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”