WOMEN’S SOCCER: Lady Tops playing for postseason position

Jay Lively

Western will host two important conference games this weekend as Sun Belt teams battle for top tournament seeds.

The Lady Toppers look to use their secret weapon against Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday and South Alabama on Sunday – home-field advantage.

South Alabama Coach Make Varga said his Lady Jaguars will have to play a solid game to win.

“We know how well they’ve done at their own place this year,” Varga said. “We have a tough test ahead of us.”

It’s crunch time for the Lady Toppers as they look to secure a No. 2 or No. 3 seed for the conference tournament with consecutive wins this weekend.

“These are two games that, if we play hard and well, we should expect to win,” Coach Jason Neidell said.

Louisiana-Lafayette is fighting just to get in the tournament, while South Alabama (6-8-3, 2-3-1) is looking at a low seed.

South Alabama, led by forward Julia Herman, went up 2-0 on second-place North Texas on Sunday before losing 4-2 to the Lady Eagles, a team Western beat 3-2 on the road.

“South Alabama is a real veteran team,” Neidell said. “Most of their starters are juniors are seniors. They’re going to come in here and expect to win.”

Sophomore defender Erica Baker said this weekend’s games are critical after a loss at Middle Tennessee last weekend.

“Hopefully the loss will give us more incentive to come out and play hard,” Baker said.

After playing four consecutive road games, Neidell said he is happy to be back on the Hill – or at the bottom of it, playing at Western’s soccer complex.

“It’s going to be nice at home this weekend,” Neidell said. “We’re looking forward to playing in front of friends and family.”