Trio of goals vault WKU past North Texas in first round of tournament

Junior forward Mallory Outerbridge makes a move toward the goal during WKU’s game against North Texas during the Lady Toppers’ first game of the Sun Belt tournament. WKU won 3-0.

M. Blake Harrison

Faced with a must-win situation, the WKU soccer team did something Wednesday night that it hadn’t done in twelve days — score a goal.    

Redshirt junior forward Mallory Outerbridge’s go–ahead goal in the 16th minute of play against North Texas parlayed the Lady Toppers into a barrage of goals.

The sixth-seeded Lady Toppers finished their first-round matchup of the Sun Belt Conference tournament with a 3-0 victory. They’ll host Middle Tennessee at 7 p.m. Thursday in the second round of the tournament.

“Once we put away the first goal, I think a lot of people kind of relaxed and kind of found the groove,” Outerbridge said.

The goal was the product of a defensive corner kick for WKU.

Junior defender Kaylyn Pratt said corner kicks provide great opportunities to put points on the board.

She said Outerbridge’s goal set the tone for the rest of the match.

“We had some really good momentum that we capitalized off of,” Pratt said. “We finally had hunger and drive and just wanted to score.”

 Junior goalkeeper Libby Stout said WKU’s fourth straight win over the Mean Green was “awesome.”

“Regardless of the results we’ve had against them, they are a good team,” Stout said. “We finally turned it on. We’ve been waiting for it the entire season, and it was really good to see.”

Stout recorded her 29th career shutout and eighth of the season.

Head Coach Jason Neidell said WKU took care of the “danger areas” during the game — his moniker for the 18 yards in front of each goal.

Neidell mentioned last week that North Texas had a couple of players the Lady Toppers were going to need to “key in on and shut down,” namely freshman midfielder Kelsey Hodges and sophomore forward Michelle Young.

“I think we frustrated quite a few of those kids, especially in the first half,” Neidell said. “We just didn’t give them any room to breathe.

“We were really, really hungry in their danger area and really, really stingy in our danger area and that was a big … difference in the game.”

Outerbridge added a second goal in the 29th minute, and freshman midfielder Torrie Lange scored for the second time in her career in the 45th minute.

Junior forward Lindsey Goad and junior midfielder Lindsay Williams were credited with assists on each of the goals, respectively.