Lady Tops end regular season with MTSU

Natalie Hayden

The Lady Toppers are finishing the regular season against their biggest rival.

WKU will head south to Murfreesboro, Tenn., to face Middle Tennessee State at 7 p.m. Friday.

Coach Jason Neidell said the team is excited for the game, especially since MTSU is a major school rival.

“We’re excited about playing such a great team who is playing for the title, just like we did last week against North Texas,” he said. “Add that to the fact that it’s a huge rivalry, and I think we’ve got the makings for a great and exciting game.”

The Lady Raiders (13-4-0, 8-1-0 Sun Belt Conference) sit just behind North Texas in league standings and can win the league’s regular season title outright with a win over WKU on Friday.

MTSU is led by senior midfielder Paige Goeglein’s 32 points (14 goals, four assists).

Senior forward Whitney Jorgenson (eight goals, seven assists) and freshman midfielder Kate Loye (seven goals, six assists) are also key Lady Raiders.

Despite the rivalry with MTSU, senior defender Ali Stahlke said the Lady Toppers will treat the game like any other.

“We always go in with the same game plan and mindset,” she said. “But the fact that if they win, they get first (seed) will probably motivate us more.”

A win this weekend will help WKU (11-4-2, 6-1-2) when it comes to seeding for next week’s Sun Belt Tournament.

The Lady Toppers will either be third or fourth seed depending on the outcome of this weekend’s games. If Florida International wins, the Lady Toppers will be fourth seed regardless of their game.

“I feel really good going into the tournament,” Neidell said. “Unfortunately, we’ve stubbed our toe a couple of times in conference play, but we’re up there with the top teams.”

Senior forward Amanda Buechel said she thinks a win against MTSU will be good for the team going into the tournament.

“It’s important for us to get a win heading into the tournament, because we need to go in with confidence,” she said.

This is Buechel’s sixth and final season, as she missed two seasons due to two torn anterior cruciate ligaments.

“We’ve gotten so close so many times, so I hope this year is different,” she said.

Last year, the Lady Toppers lost in the Sun Belt championship game against FIU in penalty kicks.

“I’m really pleased with how the season has gone, but you usually reflect on the season based on the tournament,” Neidell said.

“…As for the tournament, it’s a one game tournament and we’re going to take it one game at a time.”