WOMEN’s SOCCER: Lady Tops turn focus to conference despite injuries

Beth Wilberding

Despite capping its best conference season in three years, Western limped off the field Sunday while another name was added to its injury list.

In its final regular season games last weekend, the women’s soccer team beat Louisiana-Lafayette 4-1 Friday and South Alabama 2-1 Sunday. Now the Lady Toppers have turned their attention to preparing for the Sun Belt Conference tournament, which starts tomorrow on Creason Street.

Midway through the second half against South Alabama Western suffered the loss of senior goalie Melissa Bailey, who tore the flexor retinaculum in her left ankle.

The retinaculum forms sheathes for tendons on the outside of the ankle.

“I jumped in the air to punch a ball away, and I came down on it wrong,” said Bailey, who will have surgery on it next weekend.

It was the first ever sweep of those teams by Western, which finished SBC play at 5-1-2 and will be the No. 4 seed in the tournament.

“It’s a credit to the players and our program,” coach Jason Neidell said. “It’s a credit to the hard work our players have put in.”

As an added part of the weekend celebration, freshman Jenna Silverberg set a new scoring record with her 13th goal Sunday after not scoring for five games.

“I feel real good,” Silverberg said. “It wasn’t the first thing I thought of when I scored.”

Sunday, Silverberg scored the first goal 20 minutes into the first half when she got one past Jaguar junior goalie Amber Angermeier.

However, the Jaguars were able to get on the board early in the second half when senior midfielder Sarah Caporicci headed the ball into the goal off a throw in by freshman forward Jennifer Beckwith in the 54th minute.

Two minutes later, Western answered when junior midfielder Jocelyn Roach scored on Silverberg’s assist.

“The first half was probably the best half we played all season,” Neidell said. “South Alabama couldn’t catch us.”

Friday night the Lady Toppers came out strong, and junior forward Crystal Chapon scored the eventual game winner seven minutes in.

“We played a good solid game,” Neidell said. “We were up 3-0 at halftime, and that allowed us to give players some rest.”

And the Lady Toppers hope that rest pays off at 7 p.m. tomorrow when they meet South Alabama.

Reach Beth Wilberding at [email protected]