WOMEN’s SOCCER: Nellis tears ACL, out for the remainder of the season

Beth Wilberding

Apparently, good timing wasn’t with the women’s soccer team last weekend.

All in one weekend, game-winning shots hit crossbars, a valuable player was injured and a sub-par team effort coincided with playing the Sun Belt’s best team.

The Lady Toppers ended the weekend with a tie and a loss against North Texas and Denver, and at the same time, their conference championship hopes might have split.

For the third straight year, the Lady Toppers were unable to score against conference rival Denver, as they fell 3-0 Sunday.

Sunday’s loss was especially tough to swallow after an encouraging tie Friday against North Texas.

“We’re not consistent,” junior forward Kelly Frericks said. “And that’s a problem with us. Friday we were ready. (Sunday) we folded before the game even started.”

And not only did Western lose Sunday, the team also lost junior forward Allison Nellis, who tore her right anterior cruciate ligament in Friday’s game against North Texas.

“She was a huge asset to the team,” freshman Jenna Silverberg said. “With her absent now, somebody has to step up and take her spot.”

Sunday, Western was able to hold Denver for 30 minutes until Pioneer senior Melissa Behrent headed the ball into the net.

Western had a chance to scored in the 38th minute, but junior Betsy Duncan’s shot deflected off the crossbar.

The Pioneers (12-2, 4-1 Sun Belt Conference) came out strong in the second half, scoring 37 seconds in when senior Jamie Norwood scored from 20 yards out off an assist from Behrent. Denver’s final goal came when Norwood scored on a free kick.

Western then missed another chance to score when junior Leslie Anderson’s shot hit the crossbar.

“We didn’t play hard,” coach Jason Neidell said. “We didn’t possess the ball.”

Neidell said his team ran out of steam after playing two of the best teams in the conference.

“As good as we were Friday night,” Neidell said, “we were that bad (Sunday).”

Western posted its first tie of the season – and its history – when it faced North Texas. After double overtime, the game ended 1-1.

Western had to overcome its first blow of the game when Nellis left the game in the 25th minute.

“I was going for the ball with another girl,” Nellis said. “We collided, my body went one way and my knee the other.”

Nellis will be out the remainder of the season and will probably have surgery in two weeks. This is the second time she’s torn an ACL. Nellis tore her left ACL as a high school sophomore.

She was ranked second on the team with four goals and four assists this season.

Five minutes after Nellis left the game, North Texas (10-4-1, 3-1-1 SBC) got on the board when sophomore Andrea Marak scored off an assist from Melissa Chapman.

Western (8-5-1, 3-1-1 SBC) tied the game eight minutes later when Nellis’ replacement, Duncan, snuck the ball past Mean Green goalkeeper Briana Buchanan.

For the rest of regulation, defense dominated play.

In the first overtime, Silverberg knocked one into the net, but was called back for being offsides. After two scoreless overtimes, the game was called a tie.

Reach Beth Wilberding at [email protected]