WKU soccer team gets first win over weekend

Jonah Phillips

WKU finished off a busy weekend by evening out it’s win-loss column with its first win of the season over Indiana State University 2-1.

The Lady Toppers (1-1-1) started their weekend off in an overtime-fueled nail-biter this past Friday against Conference USA foe Rice. The Toppers outshot the Owls 23-8, but even two overtimes couldn’t yield a difference between the two, as the game ended 0-0.

The Lady Toppers found themselves in the driver’s seat for the better part of the game, but couldn’t net the ball past Rice goalkeeper Amy Czyz, who stopped all 11 shots on goal that were blasted her way.

WKU found a spark late in the first half when it totaled six shots on goal in the last 15 minutes.

The team also dominated the second half and overtime periods, outshooting the Lady Owls 8-4 in the second half of regulation and 7-0 in overtime.  

“We need to be sharper and better technically with the skill of the game,” coach Jason Neidell said of their game against Rice. “If we would have been a little bit cleaner technically, then better things would have happened.”

The two best chances for the Lady Topper squad came with 2:23 left in the second half when freshman midfielder Christine Gordon’s free kick nearly found the upper left corner before an impressive Czyz save. Later, senior midfielder Chrissy Tchoula would fire a shot on goal with 50 seconds remaining in the game, but to cap off an impressive night, Czyz would be there again for the save, finishing the game 0-0.

The squad barely took a breath and was at it again this past Sunday at the WKU Soccer Complex, this time finding their first win of the season.

Freshman midfielder Haley Baldridge netted a goal at the 18:49 mark.  Her goal was found off an equally impressive pass from fellow freshman Iris Dunn, and would end the 220-minute scoreless spell the Lady Toppers were on.

“I do whatever I can to help the team,” she said about the goal. “Everyone out there contributed, and I wouldn’t have gotten through to get the shot off without that pass from Iris.”

WKU’s 11-member freshmen class made significant offensive impact over the non-conference weekend slate, firing 27 of the Lady Toppers 47 shots against Rice and Indiana State.

Indiana State fought back late in the first half, using Kate Johnson’s goal off the crossbar in the 40th minute to set the game even going into the half. But that was all the offense ISU could muster, with the Lady Toppers totaling twice as many shots as the Sycamores with 24.

Sophomore forward Lauren Moats’ goal in the 74th minute broke the tie after senior Kiersten Ottaway sent a corner kick sailing into traffic, and after being punched around in the box was sent to the back of the net.

Moats’ goal was her second game winner, and the eighth of her career.

“It’s great,” Moats said. “It’s great to get a few goals and to get our first win, but it’s just the start.”

The Lady Toppers’ success on Sunday could be accounted for by the much more aggressive lineup and formation that was went with in the latter half of the weekend.

“We are still tinkering with a lot of things,” Neidell said. “But I definitely think we are starting who plays well with who — it’s a process that’s just going to take some time.”

The Lady Toppers return to action at 7 p.m. Thursday at the WKU Soccer Complex as they continue their non-conference slate against Austin Peay.  

The Lady Governors are enjoying a 3-0 start to the season after knocking off Arkansas-Little Rock last week.