Silverberg leads soccer sweep

Beth Wilberding

When freshman Jenna Silverberg scored Western’s only goal Sunday afternoon, not only did she secure the Lady Toppers’ first conference win of the year, but she inched closer to the single season scoring record.

The Lady Toppers defeated Florida International 1-0 in a game that was scoreless until the 78th minute of play. That was when Silverberg buried her team-leading 10th goal of the season and third of the weekend. Western beat Austin Peay 5-0 Friday.

In the second half Sunday, the defensive standoff continued until the 70th minute when Western’s Betsy Duncan was able to sneak the ball past FIU (1-8) goalie Juliana Gomez. However, the Lady Toppers didn’t have time to celebrate the goal because Duncan was offsides.

Then with 12 minutes remaining in the game, Silverberg took a pass from junior Crystal Chapon about 20 yards away and booted the ball into the top right corner of the goal.

“We had difficulties at times,” Silverberg said. “But we always found ways to pick it back up.”

Coach Jason Neidell said the team gave a strong defensive effort against the Golden Panthers.

“I thought we played well at times,” Neidell said Sunday. “But (some) things we didn’t do smart today.”

Despite not playing as well as they would’ve liked, the Lady Toppers were excited about their first conference win.

“When you enter conference play, any team is better,” junior Andrea Doogs said. “(The win) got things off in the right direction.”

The conference win sustained Western’s momentum after it blanked the Lady Governors Friday in the third shutout of the season.

The Lady Toppers (6-4) dominated the ball most of the first half against Austin Peay (2-6-1). But they were scoreless until Silverberg’s goal with less than a minute remaining in the half.

The team continued its dominance in the second half, when Silverberg added her second goal. Duncan pitched in two goals, and freshman Elizabeth Cummings scored her first goal of the season off a free kick in the 89th minute.

After the hat trick weekend, Silverberg leads the team with 10 goals. She is three goals away from breaking the single season record. Junior Allison Nellis set the mark with 12 goals in 2001.

And after putting away one conference win, the Lady Toppers are ready to face their next conference foe Friday at Arkansas State.

“That (Sunday’s) game is over,” Silverberg said. “We need to focus on the next one.”

Reach Beth Wilberding at [email protected]