Western split its second road trip in as many weeks, losing 2-0 to Sun Belt Conference rival Middle Tennessee on Friday before winning by the same margin against non-conference opponent Alabama A&M Sunday.
This time, though, the win – which came with four starters out of the line-up?- didn’t satisfy the Lady Toppers. They were much more disappointed with Friday’s conference loss.
After Middle Tennessee scored its first goal in the first half, Western was never able to answer, being held scoreless, despite controlling the ball for most of the game.
“We didn’t play with enough intensity to win the game,” Coach Jason Neidell said. “There was no sense of urgency. We didn’t do the things we needed to do.”
Western held Middle Tennessee scoreless in the second half until the Lady Raiders scored their second goal in the final 20 seconds of the match. The Lady Toppers had everybody up front to attack the goal.
Sophomore defender Betsy Duncan said the team didn’t come ready to play, but Middle Tennessee did.
“We just weren’t prepared,” Duncan said. “We waited until the last 15 minutes to start playing, and it was just too late. Our heads weren’t in it.”
After the 2-0 win in Huntsville, Ala., on Sunday, players and coaches were happy to salvage an otherwise disappointing weekend.
“We played without four of our starters, but we hung tough,” Neidell said. “We got a shutout win on the road.”
Western set the tone early when sophomore forward Kelly Frericks scored on an assist from Jocelyn Roach six minutes into the game.
“Jocelyn Roach had a beautiful cross, and I brought it down to my feet and just placed it,” Frericks said.
Western scored again in the second half when a loose ball ricocheted off freshman forward Kim Warren for her seventh goal of the season.
The Lady Toppers’ hopes of securing second or third place in the conference standings are in jeopardy after their visit to the Lady Raiders.
While Denver boasts a perfect conference record, North Texas improved its record to 5-2, dropping Western to third with a couple of other teams hot on the trail – vying with the Lady Toppers for second and third seeds in the Sun Belt Tournament.
“Things are really up in the air right now,” Neidell said. “It’s anybody’s spot.”