Neidell: Only one game guaranteed

M. Blake Harrison

Wednesday marks the beginning of a one-game season for the WKU soccer team, according to Head Coach Jason Neidell.

The sixth-seeded Lady Toppers will face a familiar foe in third-seeded North Texas at 7 p.m. at the WKU Soccer Complex to begin their run at the Sun Belt Conference tournament title.

The eight-team, single-elimination tournament begins 10 a.m. Wednesday as first-seeded Denver faces eighth-seeded Louisiana-Lafayette.

WKU enters the match against the Mean Green having lost its final three regular-season games.  

Neidell said the possibility of playing three games in four days is a tall task.

“That’s a real challenge in itself, both physically and mentally,” Neidell said. “In reality, it’s a one-game tournament.  That’s the approach we’re taking. Our season’s one game long. If we’re successful, it’s another one-game season.”

Neidell hopes WKU doesn’t look too far ahead and lose sight of the task at hand.

“Hopefully we’ve learned from that because I think we did that last year, and we were one game and done,” he said.

The Lady Toppers beat North Texas 1-0 at home in the teams’ only matchup of the year.

Junior goalkeeper Libby Stout recorded 11 saves in the match and said she remembers North Texas as a tough and aggressive team.

“We won the game last time, so I think if we can come out with the same mentality and a real hunger to score some goals, we’ll be in good shape to advance to the second round,” Stout said.

Several Lady Toppers said the Mean Green have a well-organized defense and will be out for revenge on Wednesday.

Neidell said there are a couple of “personality players” for North Texas that WKU will try to “key in on and shut down.”

He mentioned freshman midfielder Kelsey Hodges and sophomore forward Michelle Young as two players the Lady Toppers need to contain.

Redshirt junior forward Mallory Outerbridge, who scored the lone goal in the Sept. 24 contest, said each team has had time to mesh together, and WKU can’t assume a repeat result. 

“In tournament play, it’s whichever team shows up to play, but we’re ready to kick some North Texas butt,” Outerbridge said.

Junior midfielder Kelsey Meyer said she knows WKU hasn’t gotten ideal results lately, but she thinks it’s getting where it needs to be.

“After playing Middle Tennessee this past Friday night, I believe we are definitely headed in the right direction in terms of a blue-collar attitude and perfecting the details,” Meyer said. “Sure, we didn’t get the result we wanted, but it was great to see us go out there and compete.”