WOMEN’s SOCCER: UNT, Denver to invade Hill

Beth Wilberding

The Lady Toppers are ready to have some fun.

With a 3-0 conference start, the team has already clinched a playoff spot.

And this weekend, Western (8-4) faces two of the best teams in the conference when it hosts North Texas at 7 p.m. Friday and Denver at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“They’re going to be tough games,” sophomore goalkeeper Becky Kasper said. “But Jason (Neidell) told us (Tuesday) morning that we’ve put ourselves into a position where we don’t have to stress out because we’ve guaranteed a spot in the conference tournament … just go out and have fun this weekend.”

Coach Jason Neidell said the girls are ready for the weekend’s games.

“I think our mentality is really good right now,” Neidell said. “We had an unbelievable practice (Tuesday) morning. The girls seem excited about this weekend and focused on the games.”

North Texas undefeated in Sun Belt

North Texas (10-3, 3-0 Sun Belt) is the top-ranked team in the conference after beating then-No. 20 Denver in double overtime last weekend.

Last season, the Lady Toppers defeated North Texas at Denton 3-2 when they came back from a 2-0 halftime deficit.

Neidell said his team will do just as well this year because the team is healthy.

“I think we’ve significantly improved,” Neidell said. “For starters, we don’t have the injuries we had last year.”

Last season, sophomores Christi Banas and Jenny Dalby were injured.

When the Lady Toppers play Denver (10-2, 2-1 SBC) Sunday afternoon, it’s with one goal in mind – score a goal. In its two-year history, Western has never scored on Denver.

Last season the Pioneers beat Western 5-0 and outshot the Lady Toppers 28-1.

Neidell said Western has a good chance of winning this season.

“We have to relax and go out and play good soccer,” he said. “(These are) two winnable games if we play up to our potential.”

Senior goalie may miss game

Senior goalkeeper Melissa Bailey suffered a hairline fracture in the little finger of her right hand against Arkansas-Little Rock. Neidell said that if Bailey can’t play, junior Amy Uhlman “is more than ready to step into goal if we need her to.”

Players are confident they’ll be able to overcome any problem that comes their way and play well this weekend.

“I think we just have to go out and play to the best of our ability,” Dalby said. “Not worry that it’s North Texas or Denver, and just play our own game – not get psyched out.”

Reach Beth Wilberding at [email protected]