The Hilltoppers hit the road this weekend and came back with some hardware.
Western’s men’s soccer team won the Louisville Seelbach Classic in Louisville over the weekend without surrendering a goal. The Toppers came home with a title and an unblemished 4-0 start to their season.
A 2-0 victory Friday night against UNC-Ashville was followed by a 4-0 drubbing of Radford on Sunday.
The two goals against UNC-Ashville were scored by freshman Richard MupfudzeCQ and junior Austin Oyler.
In the Radford game, juniors Kyle Longo and Ron Plute, sophomore Justin Goodman and freshman Jason Dugas provided the scoring punch.
“We could have put more goals away,” Dugas said. “But we will put more away as the season goes on. We actually played really good.”
And the defense posted its second and third shutouts of the season in front of the tournament’s defensive MVP, junior goalkeeper Daryl Sattler.
“We played solid in back,” freshman defender Clay McMillan said. “It’s good to have two shutouts.”
Dugas – who has three goals in his first four collegiate games – is just one shy of the four by Western’s 2001 leading scorer, Andy Fertick.
Fertick thought the Topper defense looked superb.
“The defense did get tested, but they locked it down,” he said. “They really played incredible.”
Western is getting it done on both ends. The Toppers have scored 13 goals and only surrendered two in their first four games.
Holmes said he thinks being able to go deep into his bench and maintain high-quality play has been key to his team’s success.
“The depth of our team played an important role this weekend,” he said. “Both were good teams but we were deeper.”
The Toppers hope that will continue to make a difference as they travel to Birmingham, Ala., this weekend to compete in the Birmingham Southern Fall Classic. Their first opponent is Alabama-Birmingham, which is ranked 23rd in the nation.
“We feel like the team has played better every game,” Holmes said. “There is no reason we can’t go (to Birmingham) and do the same thing.”
The UAB game won’t be the Toppers’ only chance to beat a ranked opponent this season. Southern Methodist (ranked 8th) and No. 18 Bradley are on Western’s conference schedule, which starts Oct. 4.
Until then, Western will try to keep padding its win total, an effort that doesn’t have much historical backing.
This is the second consecutive season the Toppers have started 4-0. But, they haven’t been 5-0 since they opened with seven straight wins in 1989.
Reach Danny Schoenbaechler at [email protected]