WKU soccer struggles in Sun Belt-opening loss to North Texas

Austin Lanter

WKU kicked off Sun Belt Conference play on the road Friday night with a 2-1 loss that Head Coach Jason Neidell said wasn’t as close as it looked.

The loss snapped WKU’s four game winning streak over North Texas and marked the first time since 2004 that the Lady Toppers have lost their conference opener.

“I told them we didn’t play well,” Neidell said. “They didn’t do the things we have coached them to do, and the result is that we lost.”

After the first half of play the two teams were tied at zero. However, 10 minutes into the second half, North Texas struck with Michelle Young’s first of two goals on the night.

On the goal, WKU gave the ball up in its defensive third and North Texas was able to capitalize on the mistake. The 1-0 lead, however, would not last long for North Texas.

Just two minutes later junior defender Ali Stahlke found the back of the net for her first career goal and tied the game once more. Senior midfielder Lindsay Williams was credited with the assist after she and Stahlke connected off a corner kick.

“I don’t know if it (the goal) made any difference,” Neidell said. “It was great that we scored and got the goal back, but it never really looked like we were going to win tonight.”

North Texas took three shots over the next 10 minutes. Then, in the 69th minute, one goal proved not to be enough for Young of North Texas.

Young was able to connect on another goal, giving the Mean Green a 2-1 advantage, which they took to the end.

Neidell said the defenders were just too stretched out, which led to the through ball and the eventual goal. He added that the defense really didn’t make North Texas work for either goal.

Although WKU was able to hold its opponent to only seven shots on goal, the Lady Toppers were able to get just seven shots total — only three of which were on goal.

“We just played a really poor game,” Neidell said. “We were just bad all over the field, offensively and defensively. The game was really, really hyped up. I don’t think the kids were prepared for it. We played really soft tonight.”

Neidell added that he doesn’t think WKU would’ve beaten any team in the conference tonight with their performance.

WKU won’t have long to regroup after tonight’s loss. The Lady Toppers will be back in action at 1 p.m. Sunday against Denver.