Western awaits invitational

Joanie Baker

On Friday, the Western soccer team did its victory dance nine minutes into the game. With two goals, the Toppers thought the game was over. But Lipscomb saved its dance for overtime.

Brandon Bailey and Daniel Payne both started the game with goals in the first nine minutes. But seconds later, the game took an unexpected turn when Lipscomb’s Denis Kitzinger dropped in a penalty kick.

Later, when Kitzinger scored again to tie the game, coach David Holmes said the team was still confident they would take the win.

“It looked like it would be a 4-0 game, but then all of a sudden it was 2-1. At 2-2 there was not one person who thought we wouldn’t win,” Holmes said.

Seven shots by Western could not break the tie in the second half. Less than two minutes into overtime, Lipscomb’s Ben Page put the winning goal past freshman goalkeeper Wade Roepke.

“This was not a good performance by the young Topper team, but there were many freshmen starting,” Holmes said. “We are not yet physically fit enough to withstand away from home pressure.”

Western players were not available for comment.

Though Holmes was impressed with the team’s starting pressure, he wanted the offense to play stronger.

“We should have kept possession of the ball better and let the other team be defensive,” Holmes said. “Our ability to possess was dismal, and we continued to give the ball away in the second half.”

The team will face a strong defensive team – Xavier – in the WKU Invitational Friday.

The Musketeers went 10-7-2 last season and are returning a goalkeeper who alone had five of the team’s eight shutouts last season. Yet offensively, the team is young and has lost both of their opening games by one goal.

Western will also host Louisville and Western Michigan in the tournament. As the favorite to win, Louisville comes on the field with an undefeated record after the Cardinals stomped Belmont 5-0 last Friday. Louisville finished third in Conference USA last year, ending the season with a seven-game winning streak.

This year, Louisville is again predicted to tie for third place and is anticipating a strong defense with preseason C-USA Player of the Year pick, defender Adrian Cann. After netting two goals in the first game, Simon Bird should be monitored by the Western defense.

Coach Holmes said Western Michigan is hard-nosed and comes to the tournament as a very physically fit team. The Bisons are 2-0 so far, and they won the preseason Pops Drayer Classic in Indianapolis. Junior goalkeeper Ian Spooner was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Week with 12 saves in the first two matches.

The WKU Invitational opens at 5 p.m. Friday with Western Michigan and Louisville. Western then faces the second match against Xavier at 7 p.m.

Western was scheduled to play Belmont in a regular season game on Tuesday, but the game was postponed due to weather. The game has been rescheduled for Monday, Sept. 29 in Nashville at 6:30 p.m.

Reach Joanie Baker at [email protected]