WOMEN’S SOCCER: Skid ends with two wins at home

Jay Lively

What a difference a week can make.

After installing a new formation, the Lady Toppers (5-3) snapped a two-game losing skid with an impressive two-game stand at home this weekend.

The team won a tight battle against an established Oral Roberts program (2-3) on Friday, followed by a solid win Sunday against Lipscomb.

The intensity was high against the Golden Eagles.

So was the water.

Torrential rains Friday evening turned Western’s field into a swamp, as the teams duked it out in an extremely physical match that saw 35 fouls.

“We played with a lot of emotion out there,” head coach Jason Neidell said. “Last year Oral Roberts really pushed us around. Our girls remembered that and came out ready. The intensity tonight was fantastic.”

The coaches promised a fun and exciting game to watch on Friday.

For the fans who persevered through the downpour, the promise was delivered.

The Lady Toppers struck first at the 29-minute mark with an assist from sophomore forward Crystal Shope to freshman forward Lauren Wilson.

And Western took control of the game shortly before halftime when freshman forward Kim Warren crossed the ball to Allison Nellis, scoring the game’s second goal for a 2-0 Lady Topper advantage.

“I looked in there and saw Nellis,” Warren said. “Somehow we just know where each other are going to be. It was perfect.”

Western held on from there, securing the 2-1 win despite being outshot 13-8 by the Golden Eagles. Oral Roberts’ only goal came on a controversial free kick in the 52nd minute.

After the win. players and coaches alike were happy to exact revenge from a Golden Eagles squad that beat them soundly last year.

“I’m real excited for our kids,” Neidell said. “Hopefully we can take this performance into Sunday’s game against Lipscomb and then into conference play.”

Mission accomplished on the former.

Despite a sluggish start Sunday against the Lady Bisons, Western recovered to dominate for its second straight win.

They outshot Lipscomb 41-2 and shut out the Lady Bisons, 4-0.

After holding on to a 1-0 lead at halftime, Western unleashed a three-goal barrage in five minutes to put the game out of reach for Lipscomb (1-5-1).

“Today it took us a while to get going,” said Nellis, who scored her team-leading sixth goal of the season. “But we stepped up in the second half and played well.”

Western allowed only one goal in the weekend’s two games, compared to nine in a two-game road trip last weekend.

The two wins also kept the Lady Toppers undefeated at home this year. They hope to ride their momentum into the conference opener at Florida International next Monday night.

“We’re very confident right now heading into conference play,” Neidell said. “It’s going to take a couple weeks to be where we want to be. We just have to be patient. We want to be peaking once the (conference) tournament begins.”

Reach Jay Lively at [email protected]