Early goals power Lady Toppers past Ball State in WKU Tournament

Redshirt senior forward Mallory Outerbridge battles for possession during the Lady Toppers’ 3-1 win Sunday over Ball State. Outerbridge scored one of three first-half goals for WKU.

Austin Lanter

Although it took the Lady Toppers 97 minutes to score on Friday night, they wasted little time on Sunday afternoon against Ball State.

The Lady Toppers (2-0) scored three times in the first half en route to a 3-1 win in their final match of the WKU tournament.

“It’s always a big confidence booster when you score early,” junior midfielder Courtney Rymer said. “I think it helped our momentum, to really keep our momentum up and our motivation. It really counts as a demotivator for the other team when you get scored on early.”

A mere six minutes into the match, senior midfielder Lindsay Williams took a long-distance shot that hit the top crossbar. The ball bounced right to freshman forward Leslie Chinn, who headed the ball into the back of the net for her second goal in as many games.

The Lady Toppers found the net again just six minutes later when Rymer passed the ball to senior forward Mallory Outerbridge, who beat one defender and hit the ball to the far post to secure a 2-0 lead.

WKU took a 3-0 lead into halftime after Rymer added a goal with three minutes left in the first half. Ball State couldn’t clear the ball after a WKU cross and Rymer put the ball into the back of the net after the goalkeeper came off her line.

“Courtney just needed to concentrate on putting it in the back of the net,” Head Coach Jason Neidell said. “You see many times that ball go over the top or wide. She did a good job keeping her composure.”

Rymer agreed and said that the composure the team showed early was the difference.

“This game, we started off together,” she said. “We had more energy and composure and that really helped us finish goals and chances.”

The offense started off hot but couldn’t maintain their firepower in the second half. The Lady Toppers offense only managed to get one shot off in the second half – an offense that Neidell described as a “work in progress.”

However, the conversion of early chances was enough for the Lady Toppers, who after knocking off Western Carolina on Friday won the first tournament the program has hosted. Also, with such a big lead at halftime, many bench players were able to see playing time.

After the first weekend of play, Neidell said he’s pleased with what his team was able to do – score four goals total and only allow one.

“We just need stay the course,” Neidell said. “The pieces of the puzzle are here. We just need to get better and sharper and everything as we go.”

Four Lady Toppers were named to the All-Tournament team, which was elected by Neidell and his staff.

Those players were junior midfielder Ali Stahlke, senior midfielder Kelsey Meyer, Rymer and Chinn, who was also named the MVP of the tournament.

The Lady Toppers will be back in action at 7 p.m. Friday when they take on Vanderbilt in Nashville.