Weekend victories put WKU first in Sun Belt

MEGAN TAN/HERALD Sydney Sisler and Ali Stahlke play defense as they jump up to the re-route the ball during the WKU soccer game verses UALR on Friday Sep. 23, 2012. WKU won 5-0.

Natalie Hayden

For the first time since 2007, the Lady Toppers are 2-0 in Sun Belt Conference play, putting them in first place after the opening weekend of league play.

The Lady Toppers defeated Arkansas State 2-0 Friday night at the WKU Soccer Complex in the first game of the league season.

Senior forward Amanda Buechel scored two goals  in the game off assists from senior forward Courtney Rymer, sophomore forward Nicholette Sartori and senior midfielder Christen Simms.

On Sunday, the Lady Toppers toppled Arkansas-Little Rock 5-0, with a goal by Buechel and two goals each by Sartori and freshman forward Lauren Moats.

“It’s really been a team effort,” Head Coach Jason Neidell said. “We’ve been working in practice on being more creative offensively, and it hasn’t been about focusing on just one player. Everyone contributes.

“We’re getting everyone in a rhythm. We feel good about being in first place, now we need to stay in first place.”

The five goals against UALR were the most for WKU since a 5-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe in 2010.

The total is also one goal away from a school record for goals scored in a conference game.

“I got some really good balls played to me,” Buechel said. “I probably should’ve finished more of them.

“As a whole, we played really well. We scored five goals by being more dynamic.”

Neidell said that being more dynamic and creative in the offensive half is something the team has been working on lately in practices, rather than focusing on one key player to score goals.

Offensively this season, the Lady Toppers have scored in every game but one. Their record for non-conference play was 5-2.

Against UALR, the Lady Toppers got off 36 shots, as opposed to three for the Trojans.

“I was really pleased with how we played 18 to 18,” Neidell said. “We took a lot of shots but had to work on choosing them more wisely in the second half.”

Despite some defensive struggles, the Lady Toppers have had five shutouts this season, including a current streak of three straight.

Just two teams have scored more than one goal on the Lady Toppers so far this season.

“With the defense doing so well keeping the ball out of our net, it boosts us up and makes us want to work harder for them,” Sartori said.

The Lady Toppers now have a week of practice before heading south this weekend for games against Florida Atlantic and Florida International.

“We’re excited for next game,” Moats said. “Obviously, we’re No. 1 in the conference so we want to keep that going.”