WOMEN’S SOCCER: Murray game primer for tournament

Jay Lively

As far as this season goes, the Lady Toppers say it’s over.

After losing four of their last five contests, Coach Jason Neidell told his team that the Sun Belt Conference Tournament will be the beginning of a new one.

But before Western can start its new season, the Lady Toppers have to play on the road against Murray State Saturday. It’s a non-conference game that gives Western a chance to fix the problems that plagued it during a recent winless conference weekend.

“We’re going to use this game as a tune-up for tournament play,” Neidell said. “It’s an opportunity for us to sharpen ourselves up.”

Murray (7-6-2, 2-1-2), like Western (9-7, 3-4), is a young program, only in its third year of existence. But the Lady Racers lost only one game in Ohio Valley Conference play this season.

Sophomore forward Kelly Frericks said the game will be a good test heading into the postseason. And a chance for the Lady Toppers to bounce back from a four-game Sun Belt skid that saw them fall from a second to a fifth seed in next week’s conference tournament.

“Murray is similar to us and a rival of ours,” Frericks said. “We’re heading into the tournament with them being an exhibition match for our new season.”

Western beat the Lady Racers 1-0 last season and scrimmaged them three times in the spring, winning one and tying two.

Sophomore goalie Amy Uhlman said she expects Saturday to be a tough match-up as Murray finds itself in a similar situation.

“They’re preparing for their conference tournament too,” Uhlman said. “We expect a competitive game.”

Neidell said he’s glad that the Lady Toppers will play one more before the tournament. This weekend left a sour taste in his team’s mouth. And morale isn’t peaking. He looks to change that Saturday.

“It’s nice we have an opportunity to get back on the field and make things right,” Neidell said.

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