Soccer team closes home stand over weekend

WKU Sophomore defender, Alanna Clancey, of Carmel, IN, rushes past University of Memphis sophomore defender Elysia Masters. The Lady Toppers lost to the Memphis Tigers, 1-0. 

Jonah Phillips

The Lady Toppers finished their lengthy season-opening stretch of home games this weekend as they hosted Ohio Valley Conference power Austin Peay and American Athletic Conference foe Memphis.

WKU (1-2-2) was unable to get a win over the weekend, falling on Sunday to the Lady Tigers, but forced a 1-1 tie with the Lady Governors on Thursday.

Austin Peay came in to the game ranked No. 1 in the OVC. The Lady Toppers had history on their side though — WKU had won all six of the previous games between the teams.

In their fourth game of the regular season, the Lady Toppers went into overtime and were still not able to set themselves apart from their opponent — the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Austin Peay struck first when senior Tatiana Ariza netted her sixth goal of the season in the 61st minute.

The Lady Toppers would equalize the score two minutes later, when a shot by sophomore midfielder Lauren Moats slammed in the back of the net off of an assist from freshman midfielder Christine Gordon.

Regulation play was more of a defensive battle for the Lady Toppers as Austin Peay outshot WKU 17-9.

The Lady Toppers found a spark in overtime, though, firing six shots to Austin Peay’s one, but this late push wasn’t enough for the win — after 110 minutes of action, there was nothing to separate the teams.

“Tactically, I think we performed well,” senior defender Torrie Lange said of the team’s performance against Austin Peay. “Our work rate just wasn’t there.”

The squad got a short break before getting back at it Sunday against a 3-1 Memphis team that WKU has never beaten — other than a 2-2 tie in a 2012 exhibition match, the Lady Toppers have never scored on the Lady Tigers.

It would prove to be another defensive battle for the squad. The Lady Toppers were outshot by the Lady Tigers 9-3 in the first half alone and 15-6 for the game. But the Lady Topper defense gave few quality attempts to their opposition, as Memphis fired only a third of its shots on target and finished with one goal.

At the end of regulation, though, that one goal would be all it took for the Tigers to walk away with a win.

WKU would muster three shots on goal all game, the closest of which would come in the expiring seconds of regulation after freshman forward Iris Dunn cranked one toward the corner of the goal, only to be knocked out by Memphis goalkeeper Maryse Bard-Martel as time ran out.

Senior forward Sydney Sisler had two good looks in the latter 20 minutes of the first half and finished the game with a team-high three shots, one of which was on goal.

“It was pretty disappointing,” senior midfielder Chrissy Tchoula said. “We have midseason goals and long-term goals, and some of those goals are to get a certain amount of nonconference wins.”

“We have to work on executing what we’ve been working on tactically,” Lange said.  “We have been getting better on what we have been working on in practice, but we have been slipping in our work ethic— and you can coach work ethic.”

The Lady Toppers will hit the road for the first time this season this weekend with games Friday against Western Carolina at 6 p.m. and Sunday at Tennessee at 1 p.m.