WKU soccer drops first two Sun Belt matches

Austin Lanter

The Lady Toppers entered conference play with a 5-3 record, having played what Head Coach Jason Neidell called the toughest non-conference schedule in WKU history. 

However, after the first weekend, WKU finds itself at 0-2 and back at .500 after two road losses — the first on Friday against North Texas and the second on Sunday against Denver.

WKU scored just one goal in two games. Neidell said the tone for the weekend was set on Friday with a game that wasn’t ever close.

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

North Texas struck in the 55th minute, but just two minutes later, junior defender Ali Stalhke scored her first career goal off a corner taken by senior midfielder Lindsay Williams.

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

North Texas added another goal in the 69th minute to take a 2-1 lead that it held on to the rest of the game.

Just two days later against Denver, it was a similar story. It took just 14 minutes for the Pioneers to find the net before eventually winning 2-0.

Despite going 0-2 this weekend, Neidell and the players feel they improved from Friday to Sunday.

“We did a lot better with group defending as the weekend went on,” sophomore defender Stephanie Lindsey said. “We need to move forward and take this weekend for what we can and concentrate on the next game.”

Neidell agreed and added that it was good to see the team come back and play better Sunday after WKU “tanked” on Friday. 

“We could’ve put heads down and buried ourselves,” Neidell said. “We need more attacking spark. We fought back a little (Sunday) after a poor performance (Friday). It wasn’t an easy road trip.”

After taking seven shots Friday night — only three of which were on target — WKU managed to take only three against Denver. The Lady Toppers were outshot 26-10 throughout the entire weekend.

After being outscored and outshot all weekend, Neidell said the Lady Toppers would be working heavily on offense this week in practice. He said they’ll be focusing on creating more chances to score and better attacks in general.

“It begins defensively,” sophomore midfielder Chrissy Tchoula said. “When we did get the ball, we were panicked and a lot of times we gave it away and didn’t have an opportunity to shoot. We need to follow the play and don’t get disconnected. We need to stay connected and try harder.”

The 0-2 start isn’t exactly what Neidell had in mind. He said it puts the team in a tough spot.

“We played two pretty good teams. Every game is a must-win now,” he said. “We really put ourselves in a hole in conference standings.”

WKU will be back in action with a chance to get back above .500 in conference play this weekend at home. 

The Lady Toppers’ first match is at 6 p.m. Friday against Arkansas-Little Rock. They’ll follow that up at 1 p.m. Sunday against Arkansas State.