WKU soccer winless with tough schedule

Junior goalkeeper Libby Stout rises above freshman defender Katrina Ott and Minnesota defender Kylie Kallman to gain control of the ball during the second half of their game at the WKU Soccer Field on Sunday afternoon. The Toppers lost 2-1.

M. Blake Harrison

Coming off a season that produced nine conference wins — the most in program history — the WKU women’s soccer team enters its 10th season eager to feed off of last year’s momentum.

Picked to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference, the Lady Toppers (0-2-1) scheduled several power-conference teams to prepare them for Sun Belt competition.

Though they have yet to record a win, matches against Bowl Championship Series schools such as Tennessee and Ole Miss out of the Southeastern Conference and Minnesota out of the Big Ten Conference have provided the opportunity for the Lady Toppers to gauge how ready they are for Sun Belt play.

Head Coach Jason Neidell said Sunday that his team showed it is much improved from the beginning of the season, when the Lady Toppers played exhibition games against Memphis and Butler.

“Sure, we would’ve liked better results, but we’re pretty happy with the results and what we’ve taken from these games,” Neidell said. “From where we were last Friday at Tennessee to where we came on Friday and then today, I’m very, very encouraged about this team.”

While WKU struggled offensively throughout its first two games and the first half of its bout with Minnesota — they took 13 shots and did not score — the Lady Toppers made a breakthrough and scored their first goal of the season toward the end of action Sunday.

Junior goalkeeper Libby Stout might have felt the effects of the tough schedule more than most, as she’s already fielded 51 shots from the Lady Toppers’ opposition.

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

As a first-team all-Sun Belt Conference selection, Stout said she thinks she can live up to the billing.

“I don’t really think of myself as the spotlight,” she said. “I feel like I have so much help from my teammates that they make me look good.”

Although WKU did win its exhibition contest against Butler on Aug. 15, getting the first meaningful ‘W’ is something sophomore forward Laura Ray said is driving the team. 

“We’re angry,” Ray said. “We’ve played a tougher schedule probably than a lot of teams, and I think with all the challenges we’ve had, we’re ready to do it. We’re ready to win this.”