Moats, Baldridge a big part of soccer offense through five games

Lady Toppers sophomore forward/midfielder Lauren Moats waits for the ball to drop after being kicked down the field. WKU played against the University of Memphis and lost, 1-0. 

Jonah Phillips

As part of a young Lady Topper squad that is still trying to find their footing offensively, sophomore midfielder Lauren Moats has been a bright spot for the WKU attack through the first five games of the season.

Her success isn’t a shocker, though — Moats is following up on an eye-grabbing freshman season.  

In her rookie campaign, Moats earned her stripes and gained the trust and respect of her teammates, netting seven goals and one assist.

Moats stepped up when it counted last season. Five of her seven goals as a freshman came during Sun Belt Conference play, including a game-winning goal in overtime against FAU.

She finished last season ranked No. 2 on the team in shots with 34.

In the early stages of this season, Moats has fired off eight shots in five games. Two were good for goal, including a game-saving goal against Austin Peay for the tie and a game-winner the week earlier against Indiana State.

“We need to work on being more dynamic,” Moats said of the Toppers’ attack. “Coach was talking about being more dynamic up top. If we can just finish off that last pass or get that crisp shot off, than more things will be coming our way.”

Moats is responsible for two of WKU’s three goals this season.

Freshman midfielder Haley Baldridge, one of 11 freshmen on the Lady Topper squad, is responsible for the other goal.

With all the new faces, the squad has been forced to take time and create a new cohesive attacking front. That front has mustered 77 shots, 30 shots on goal and three goals through the first five games.

“We are really going to need to be more dynamic up top if we want to get some goals,” coach Jason Neidell said.  “We need to create better chances, a lot of our shots are from distance or outside the box, when we need to be able to break down a team and get in behind them.”

Though Moats and Baldridge have been the spark WKU needs in certain situations, they account for less than a third of the shots on target, totaling seven out of the teams 30.

The extra lifting has come from freshman forward Iris Dunn. While she has yet to score, Dunn leads the Lady Toppers in both shots (15) and shots on goal (7).  

The Lady Toppers will hit the road this week, with games Friday against Western Carolina and Sunday at Tennessee.

Moats said she and the rest of the Lady Toppers would like to pick up a couple of wins over the weekend as they prepare to start conference play.

“We have Tennessee this upcoming weekend, which is going to be another game like Rice, Memphis and Utah; it’s going to be one of our harder games,” Moats said, after a loss to Memphis this weekend. “We don’t need to perform well just to get the win, but also to get some confidence going into conference play.”