WKU can’t weather Tigers, fall to No. 20 Memphis

Senior midfielder Lindsay Williams jumps to head the ball against Memphis Sunday at the WKU soccer complex. WKU lost 0-2.

Austin Lanter

WKU took the field Saturday afternoon against No. 20 Memphis and were evenly matched with the ranked Tigers throughout the first half. 

But the Lady Toppers (3-2) couldn’t contain Memphis in the second half, as the Tigers scored two second half goals to take the game 2-0. 

Head Coach Jason Neidell said despite the loss, he was pleased with the effort his team gave against a quality team.

“I am really proud of the way we played today,” he said. “We played against a top-20 team. You play as hard as you can, you play as smart as you can, you hang in there. We had some chances in the first half and had we capitalized, it might’ve been a different game.

“Memphis is such a good team, they have so much athleticism and speed. We hung with them every step of the way. It was a really encouraging performance.”

WKU had a few chances early on but couldn’t convert. In the 12th minute, senior midfielder Kelsey Meyer found fellow senior forward Mallory Outerbridge in the 18-yard box. Outerbridge’s shot was then blocked by a defender.

That shot was one of just three the Tops had during the game, all of which came in the first half. Despite a lack on offensive opportunities, Head Coach Jason Neidell wasn’t discouraged.

The athleticism and speed from the Tigers proved to be too much for the Toppers to handle in the second half.

“I think that we just got tired and we just did not get any chances,” Outerbridge said. “Sometimes it just does not go our way. We worked really hard and you just go up against good teams, better teams. Now we know what to look forward to.”

Neidell agreed and said that he knew Memphis would come out hard in the second half and that their first goal might have been a bit of a “fluke.”

“We knew that we were going to have to start the second half and kind of weather the first 10-15 minutes because we knew that they were going to throw everything they had at us,” he said. “Unfortunately it was a little bit of a fluke. She meant to cross it and it went in.”

The “fluke” he is referring to is when a Memphis player crossed the ball from the right hand side of the field, the ball curved, hit the post and found the back of the net. Memphis added another goal with 13 minutes left in the game.

Despite the early goal allowed in the second half, Outerbridge said she’s pleased with the way the team responded after the goal.

“After their first goal, we stayed strong and didn’t allow another goal until near the end which is a big positive,” she said. “We just kept fighting and fighting and fighting. We hustled and we worked.”

The Lady Toppers will be back in action this Friday night at 6 p.m. against Belmont and again Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. against Eastern Michigan. Both games will be played at the WKU Soccer Complex.