Lady Toppers can clinch regular season title Friday

Jonah Phillips

One conference win stands between the Lady Toppers and a regular season Sun Belt Conference Championship — a feat they have not accomplished since 2007.

Friday’s match will pit WKU (8-4-4, 6-1-0 Sun Belt Conference) against a Georgia State team currently slated at No. 6 in the conference.

This will be the Lady Toppers’ first time facing off against the conference newcomers. With a win against GSU (5-9-1, 3-4-0 SBC), WKU would clinch the regular season title and earn the No. 1 seed in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, which is set to begin Nov. 6 in San Marcos, Texas.

Senior forward Andrea Curry said the Lady Toppers know what’s on the line at Friday’s Senior Day game.

“The biggest thing we want to accomplish is to make the most of the opportunities that are given to us,” she said.

With their conference position on the line, this weekend is shaping up to be one for the record books for WKU.  

Should the Lady Toppers win on Friday, WKU will be the only team in the conference to accumulate 50 Sun Belt wins since the Lady Toppers last won the title in 2007.

After this weekend, senior defender Torrie Lange will be one of only 11 Lady Toppers in program history to appear in more than 80 games. She and fellow senior defender Stephanie Lindsey — who leads the Toppers in minutes this season at 1,232 — are the spine of a staunch back line that has blanked six of seven SBC opponents this year.

Coach Jason Neidell is two wins away from 150 career wins in his time as the only soccer coach in WKU’s program history.

Lange said the Lady Toppers are trying to be mentally tough in their last two games. After Friday’s home game, WKU will close the season with a road game Sunday against Evansville.

“Ever since last season ended, we’ve been working on having a tough mentality, and I know that’s vague terminology and for everyone it might be a little different,” Lange said.

Neidell said the Lady Toppers have the ability to improve in every facet of their game.

“We need to work on our collective team defending, possession through the midfield and being more dangerous on the attack,” he said. “That’s going to be our focus in practice moving forward to this weekend.”

Despite a lack of wins, the Lady Panthers have posted impressive offensive numbers in conference play this season. GSU has netted 10 goals compared to WKU’s eight since conference play began.  

On that same note, the Lady Panthers have only shut out one Sun Belt opponent this year, while WKU has shut out all but one of its conference competitors. WKU has only allowed three goals since conference play began, all in one game, while GSU has allowed 11 goals from six opponents.

“It has been a tough part of the season,” Neidell said of his team’s recent conference schedule. “It is always hard to play away conference matches.  We feel like we hadn’t been playing to our potential the past couple games, and we told our girls that.”

Neidell said his team is ready to have the chance to clinch the conference.

“We are very excited to be in the position to clinch the regular season title, but all that gets you is a trophy,” he said. “We really are looking to be in top form come conference time.”