WKU’s Outerbridge embracing leadership role

Austin Lanter

Although it’s early in the season, senior forward Mallory Outerbridge has proven right her selection to the preseason all-Sun Belt team. 

Her two goals — including one in Friday’s win over Austin Peay — are tied for the team lead. She also leads the team with five total points. 

Senior forward Amanda Buechel said having a player like Outerbridge takes the pressure off everyone else on the team.

“It’s really easy working with Mallory,” Buechel said. “I know how she plays.”

In Friday night’s match, Outerbridge’s goal came off an assist from sophomore midfielder Chrissy Tchoula 23 minutes in. After only seven minutes of play in the second half, Outerbridge found fellow senior and midfielder Kelsey Meyer.

Even with the early success she’s had, Outerbridge was quick to praise her teammates for their performance, which in turn helped her own performance as well.

“Chrissy made a really good pass to me, and I took and shot and it went in,” Outerbridge said. “With the assist to Kelsey, she was wide open and I found her. We just worked really hard on Friday night.”

WKU was back at it two days later against No. 20 Memphis, as was Outerbridge.

Despite scoring three goals just two nights before, the Lady Toppers were only able to get three shots off during the match, all of which came in the first half. But two of WKU’s three shots came off Outerbridge’s foot.

Head Coach Jason Neidell said that if the Lady Toppers had been able to convert in the first half, it could have been a completely different match.

“We had some chances in the first half, and had we capitalized on our chances, it might’ve been a different game,” he said. “Had that cross not gone in or we had of capitalized in the first half, maybe it’s a different game.”

The cross Neidell mentioned was the first goal scored by Memphis, which came two minutes into the second half. A Memphis player was on the right hand side of the field and crossed the ball in. The cross curved, hit the post and ended up in the back of the net. 

Outerbridge said that despite her team allowing a goal so early in the second half, it responded well.

“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 hustled and we worked and worked and worked. After that goal we just kept fighting and fighting and unfortunately they got another one. That’s just how it goes sometimes.”

Outerbridge said conditioning may have contributed to Sunday’s loss to Memphis. The Lady Toppers could always be in better shape, she said, adding that Memphis “ran us into the ground” at the end of Sunday’s match.

Outerbridge said the Lady Toppers worked well together this weekend, and that playing a nationally ranked Memphis team as well as Vanderbilt in the non-conference part of the schedule will only help the team in the long run.

“People need to get rid of nerves,” she said. “I think games like this help, especially when we go into conference games and play teams like Denver and North Texas. 

“People are going to say ‘oh we’ve played such and such team’…We have done it once. We can do it again. So I think it goes a long way.”