WOMEN’s SOCCER: Nellis, Silverberg combine to pound Murray State

Beth Wilberding

When the Lady Topper soccer team walked onto their field Sunday night, they were looking for revenge against in-state rival Murray State.

Last season, the Lady Racers beat Western when they broke a 1-1 tie in the 85th minute of the game. This year the Lady Toppers returned the favor, 4-1.

Junior forward Allison Nellis scored 19 minutes into the game and helped fuel Western’s offense. Nine minutes later, she added her second goal on a penalty kick.

Late in the first half, freshman forward Jenna Silverberg scored her first goal of the night on assists from Jocelyn Roach and Andrea Doogs.

Silverberg then scored her team-leading fifth goal of the season in the first minute of the second half.

The Lady Toppers’ defense dominated Murray for most of the game, allowing only four shots on the net.

Coach Jason Neidell was proud of the defense’s performance.

“The defense is playing much better,” Neidell said. “We’re headed in the right direction.”

The Lady Toppers gave up their shutout late in the second half when Lacey Latimer scored the Lady Racer’s lone goal.

Entering Sunday night’s game, Murray was undefeated.

Western had six days to prepare for Murray. Western started the season 1-2, playing all three games in five days. Players believe the extra time to gear up for the Lady Racers gave them a chance to see what the team needed to work on.

One of the biggest improvements was getting the ball to the outside midfielders. When that happened, space was created to string passes through the Racer defense. Silverberg’s second goal was created that way.

“We watched films and learned from our mistakes,” junior defender Erica Baker said. “Then we came out on the field and worked on them.”

But even after getting back to .500, Western (2-2) has not had a flawless game yet.

“We’re more game-fit and focused on what we need to do,” Neidell said. “We need to tighten up defensively and focus on going to the ball with urgency.”

Neidell said he believes this team’s mentality as a whole has been stronger than that of his previous teams, and that will translate to better success on the field.

Junior forward Crystal Chapon agreed.

“We did play two hard games in the beginning,” Chapon said. “We worked harder, and mentally we were ready (Sunday).”

Baker said Sunday’s victory was sweetened because because Murray is an in-state rival.

Saturday, the Lady Toppers travel to South Bend, Ind., to face fifth-ranked Notre Dame.

Reach Beth Wilberding at [email protected]