WOMEN’S SOCCER: Lady Tops move on to second round of Sun Belt

Jay Lively

Midfielder Jocelyn Roach had not scored a goal all season.

She had come close plenty of times. She just couldn’t seem to finish.

But yesterday, against No. 4 seed Louisiana-Lafayette, Roach hit the back of the net from 25 feet out to give No. 5 seed Western a 2-0 lead and the breathing room it needed to advance to the second round of the Sun Belt Tournament.

The Lady Toppers won 2-1.

It was the second year in a row the sophomore midfielder scored her first goal of the season in the first round of the playoffs.

“I was crying, I was so excited,” Roach said. “I’ve had bad luck when it comes to scoring goals. But I made it when it counted.”

Roach’s goal at the 21-minute mark came after sophomore forward Kelly Frericks scored in the 12th minute on an assist from freshman forward Katherine Hunt which put Western up 1-0.

“The ball was going right to the keeper,” Frericks said. “I just decided to go hard, give the goalie hell and see what happens. I went up with keeper, she lost focus on the ball and it touched off me.”

Seven minutes before halftime, Louisiana-Lafayette responded when Krist Boldt Klausen scored to cut the lead to 2-1 going into the break.

Coach Jason Neidell said his team had opportunities to put the game out of reach in the second half, but was not able to capitalize. Instead, the Lady Toppers relied on a solid defensive effort that shut out the Lady Cajuns the rest of the game.

“(Louisiana-Lafayette) scrapped and clawed and stayed in the game,” Neidell said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we fought hard and did what we needed to win the game.”

The victory was sweet revenge for the Lady Toppers, who lost in overtime to Louisiana-Lafayette at home on Oct. 25.

“Both teams understood the importance of this game,” Neidell said. “It’s do-or-die time. You win or you go home. It’s the same thing tomorrow.”

Western will play at 4 p.m. against the winner of No. 8 seed Middle Tennessee and No. 1 seed Denver, the tournament favorite, which has won 12 straight.

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