WKU soccer drops home opener to Minnesota

WKU’s Chrissy Tchoula battles for possession with Minnesota’s Nicole Baier during the first half of Sunday’s game at the WKU Soccer Complex. The Lady Toppers dropped their second game of the season in the 2-1 loss.

M. Blake Harrison

This story was originally published Aug. 29, 2010.

Playing its home opener against just the second Big Ten opponent in program history, WKU’s women’s soccer team was defeated Sunday by Minnesota, 2-1, at the WKU Soccer Complex.

The Gophers (2-1) scored the go-ahead goal on the Lady Toppers (0-2-1) in the 17th minute after officials determined the ball broke the plane for a split second before soaring in the opposite direction.

While the outcome of the game was not as desired, Head Coach Jason Neidell said it was evident that progress had been made.

“We got outplayed a lot worse at Tennessee than we did today,” he said, referencing the Lady Toppers’ season-opening loss to the Volunteers. “We expected to play a team that was a little better than us today, and we did.”

Against their first Big Ten opponent in 2006, the Lady Toppers lost to Purdue, 1-4.

Sunday’s result wasn’t as lopsided, but the Gophers made scoring a point early. Minnesota senior forward Katie Bethke netted a penalty kick in just the third minute of the game.

Sophomore forward Laura Ray, who answered with WKU’s lone goal on a corner kick in the 82nd minute, said she didn’t feel like the 17th-minute Minnesota goal should have counted.

“I’m going to be biased of course, so yeah, I don’t think it was a goal,” Ray said. “But like I said, the refs are going to make their calls. There’s nothing you can do about it.”

Neidell said the Lady Toppers’ sluggish start played a major factor in the loss.

“I thought we came out a little bit slow in the first half and there were a couple of questionable situations early in the game and we didn’t handle it very well,” Neidell said.

The majority of the game saw the Toppers on the defense against a senior-laden team that Neidell said should contend for the Big Ten title.

The Lady Toppers took just one shot in the first 45 minutes courtesy of freshman midfielder Chrissy Tchoula. But the second half was much improved for WKU.

WKU controlled the half, out-shooting Minnestota 6-3.

Goalkeeper Libby Stout, a junior, fielded 14 shots, saving three.

“I’m used to playing under pressure,” Stout said. “Not to say it’s better to be down for me, but having a little bit of pressure on myself makes me play better.”

The Lady Toppers next host Evansville at 6 p.m. Friday at the WKU Soccer Complex.