Lady Toppers off to best start since 2001 following 1-0 shutout of Louisville

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Credit: WKU Athletics/Gunnar Word

Junior forward Katie Erwin lines up a kick during her five-point performance against Union University on Aug. 21, 2021 at the WKU Soccer complex.

Drew Toennies, Soccer reporter

The Lady Toppers (4-0-0) handed the Louisville Cardinals (4-1-0) their first loss of the season at Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Stadium on Sunday night, shutting out the Cardinals 1-0. WKU is off to its best start since 2001.

“There’s certain players that played really well defensively all night long,” head coach Jason Neidell said after the match. “Alexis Bach was really solid in goal and [I] love to see the way that both Avery [Jacobsen] and Lyric [Schmidt] are organizing our defense. I thought Katie Erwin had another spectacular game. She loves coming back to Louisville, her hometown, to play.”

Tonight’s meeting against Louisville was the fourth time in program history WKU has faced off against its in-state rival. Both programs now own two wins apiece in the all-time series.

“We’re really really proud of the way that we just found a way to grind out another win,” Neidell said. “These are challenging games and we’re still making a lot of mistakes and missing out on a lot of details. We’re figuring out how to win these kinds of games. That’s what it takes and sometimes it’s not the prettiest way to go about it, but we’re figuring out ways to grind out wins.”

The Lady Toppers were outshot by the Cardinals 15-7 but were dead even with Louisville in shots on goal with five apiece.

Sophomore forward Lily Rummo booted in the game-winning goal in the 11th minute of the match and the WKU defense held strong to seal the win.

“I think the first half, we didn’t play very well defensively,” Neidell said. “I thought in the second half, every player made a commitment to take a little bit more pride in their defensive effort. I thought the second half we played really really well and then we changed tactically with about 15 minutes left and I didn’t think we actually managed the game very well when we did that, but kind of fortunate to keep the ball out of the back of our net in the last 15 minutes.”

Goalkeeper Alexis Bach held the Cardinals scoreless, notching four saves on the night.

“They were a really dynamic team,” Bach said. “We had to really communicate as a backline and just as a team in general, and just get numbers behind the ball and move our feet and I think it was really a whole team shut out.”

The Cardinals displayed their aggression early on, firing two shots towards the net in the first 10 minutes of the match with one shot being on the mark.

It was the Lady Toppers who drew first blood as Rummo rocketed the ball into the back of the net in the 11th minute to give WKU the 1-0 advantage over the Cardinals.

The Cardinals outshot the Lady Toppers 10-5 while both teams had four shots on goal after the whistle was blown following the first 45 minutes of play. Additionally, both goalkeepers had three saves to their names by the interval.

The Lady Toppers outshot their ACC opponents 2-0 in the opening moments of the second half as Rummo and junior forward Katie Erwin each had attempts to notch an insurance goal.

The Cardinals had several opportunities to tie the match late, launching an additional five shots towards the net in the back half of the match, but the Lady Toppers defense held firm and concluded the night with a 1-0 shutout victory.

The Lady Toppers will travel to Nashville to face off against the Belmont Bruins on Thursday, Sept. 9, looking to keep their winning streak alive. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT.

“Well, we got to recover, we got to look at some film, and we gotta get ready for a really good Belmont team who I think is undefeated at home this season, so it’s gonna be a tough match for us,” Neidell said. “I think we’ve got to get recovered and get after it in practice this week.”

Soccer reporter Drew Toennies can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @drew_toennies.