Barnett named C-USA Player of the Year; Four Lady Toppers earn All-Conference Honors

Senior captain Avery Jacobsen prepares for a header against FIU on March 4, 2021. WKU went on to defeat the Panthers 4-3. 

Drew Toennies

WKU junior Ambere Barnett has been crowned with the Conference USA Player of the Year award as well as a Midfielder of the Year award the league announced Monday.

Since Kellie Walker was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in 2009, WKU has not had a player receive the Player of the Year honor in the sport of soccer. 

Both Barnett and senior Avery Jacobsen were named to the All-Conference First Team. 

Junior Lyric Schmidt was the lone Lady Topper named to the All-Conference Second Team while freshmen Brina Micheels and Ellie Belcher have been awarded with All-Freshman honors.

Head coach Jason Neidell spoke highly of his players who earned accolades via his Twitter account after the announcements were posted.

Barnett is both nationally recognized and nationally ranked at the 50th spot in four statistical categories. Barnett has a 0.654 shot accuracy (27th), 0.67 goals per game (37th), 1.56 points per game (44th), and 1.89 shots on goal per game (44th). All of those stats put her in at least the top two in C-USA.

The junior from Rockport, Indiana leads WKU with six goals on the season and a total of 14 points, scoring one goal per game in the first three matches of the season, including two goals scored against FIU on March 4.

Five of Barnett’s six goals have been scored in C-USA play, scoring game winning goals in matches against both Middle Tennessee and FIU.

The junior has 18 total goals in her career on the Hill, which is a tie for the ninth most goals scored in program history. Barnett’s 16 assists are tied for fourth most in program history and her 52 are seventh best in the WKU record book. 

Barnett will now three peat being selected to the All-Conference First Team after earning the honor in her last two seasons.

Jacobsen also earned the honor of All-Conference First Team whereas Schmidt has earned her spot on the Second Team. Both players have been crucial to the team’s success as they help support the backline and only allowed 8.2 shots per game and 3.5 shots on goal per game. 

WKU’s defense has limited opponents to 21 total corner kicks this spring.

Jacobsen had a stellar match against conference foe, Middle Tennessee, where she scored her first career goal and assisted on the game winning shot.

The senior captain from Las Vegas, Nevada has two assists on the season, notching her second assist against Southern Illinois. Jacobsen is the only Lady Topper who has played through every minute of the 2021 season.

Schmidt also played a huge role in the Lady Topper’s success, setting up sophomore Katie Erwin for the game winning goal that would clinch the C-USA East Division title. Schmidt was given a free kick with 51 seconds left and after being just off the mark, which gave Erwin a chance to win it.

Belcher and Micheels have also had significant performances in their first season on the Hill. 

Belcher gave the WKU defense the power it needed to shut out four teams and held opponents to only 11 goals this season. The freshman from Bowling Green scored in her first match as a Lady Topper and grabbed another goal in a match against Marshall.

Micheels is tied for the team’s lead in assists with a total of three on the season. The freshman from Plattsburgh, New York, scored the game winning goal against Centre on a corner kick that she bent into the goal. Micheels is WKU’s primary corner taker and has helped the team thrive.

WKU’s five student athletes on All-Conference teams this season is the most honors the school has received since the 2016 season when WKU had five student athletes placed on All-Conference teams.

The Lady Toppers will take on UAB in the first round of the C-USA tournament on Tuesday at 11 a.m in Houston, Texas.

Sports reporter Drew Toennies at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @drew_toennies.