Lady Toppers go scoreless in first road trip of 2013

Jonah Phillips

The Lady Toppers had a scoreless weekend in their first road trip of the season, but WKU (1-3-3) showed positive signs in the team’s pair of games.

Western Carolina (4-2-0) came away with the win when the teams met Friday, but WKU was able to force a double-overtime tie against Tennessee (5-2-1) on Sunday.

Traveling to Cullowhee, N.C., for their first road game of the season, the Lady Toppers felt the quick sting of uncharted waters when Lady Catamount Kelly Pannell scored off a throw in from Markie-Lynn Studnicky in just the sixth minute of play.

The Lady Toppers had no time to recover before Pannell was at it again — she netted another goal unassisted just two minutes later.

WKU trailed by two goals less than 10 minutes into the game — the first career road game for the 11 Lady Topper freshmen.

“We didn’t start the game ready to play, and they scored two goals on us because of it,” Coach Jason Neidell said.

The Lady Toppers rallied together and were on the attack for the later part of the first half, firing 10 shots—three of which were on goal.

The best opportunities of the half came from senior midfielder Sydney Sisler and sophomore midfielder Chandler Clark.  Sisler fired a shot on goal from 25 yards out. Clark connected with a header off a corner from freshman midfielder Haley Baldridge, both of which were stopped by Western Carolina’s Jenny Lauer.

The Lady Toppers were able to buckle down and hold off any more goals from the Lady Catamounts but never could find the back of the net in their attack and fell 2-0.

“In the last 20-25 minutes of the first half, we actually played very well,” Neidell said. “But in the second half we were just too anxious and pressed to get the goals back, and we just couldn’t find a rhythm to our game.”

Their second away showcase was a bit closer to home for the squad nut no easier of an opponent when the Lady Toppers took on Tennessee in Knoxville on Sunday.

“We played a really, really good Tennessee team, and our kids battled for 110 minutes,” Neidell said. “We were playing a lot of defense because their team was so good, but we also were able to create some chances that we didn’t create on Friday.”

The afternoon was highlighted by senior goalkeeper Nora Abolins who recorded a career-high 11 saves against a Lady Volunteer team that would post 36 shots in 110 minutes of play.  

Much like the WCU game, Sisler led the Lady Topper charge, recording the lone shot on goal, which didn’t come till 8 minutes into the first overtime period.

Despite playing well as a team against arguably their biggest opponent yet of the season, the Lady Toppers ended their weekend having not scored a goal in 336 minute of play since sophomore midfielder Lauren Moats’ equalizer against Indiana State on Sept. 5.

WKU returns to action Friday when the team travels to Nashville to take on Belmont at 4 p.m.