Lady Toppers defeat MTSU 2-1, remain perfect in conference play

WKU+junior+forward+Katie+Erwin+%2813%29+dribbles+past+a+defender+during+the+Lady+Toppers+match+against+the+Ole+Miss+Rebels+on+Sunday%2C+Sept.+12+2021+at+the+WKU+Soccer+Complex.+Ole+Miss+went+on+to+win+1-0.

ARTHUR TRICKETT-WILE

WKU junior forward Katie Erwin (13) dribbles past a defender during the Lady Toppers’ match against the Ole Miss Rebels on Sunday, Sept. 12 2021 at the WKU Soccer Complex. Ole Miss went on to win 1-0.

Drew Toennies, Soccer reporter

The Lady Toppers (7-1-0, 2-0 C-USA) concluded their first week of Conference USA play with a 2-1 victory over the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (5-4-1, 1-1 C-USA) on a wet Sunday night at the WKU Soccer Complex.

“Every game in conference [play] is going to be tightly contested,” WKU head coach Jason Neidell said following the win. “It’s always challenging on any given day no matter who your opponent is to get three points and get a [win].”

The Lady Toppers and the Blue Raiders took 15 shots each with WKU outshooting MTSU 7-5 in shots on goal. WKU was awarded 10 corner kicks to MTSU’s seven.

“I thought we were knocking on the door for a little bit in the second half and it just seemed like it was just a matter of time,” Neidell said. “We just kept working hard and kept fighting and kept scrapping and good things happened for us. Unfortunately I didn’t think we closed out the game very well. We’re gonna need to look at that on film and try to look at some things tactically with that.”

WKU senior defender Lyric Schmidt scored the first goal of the match in the 67th minute.

“Our game plan at the beginning of the game was keeping the ball, making sure we get on Middle Tennessee’s first touch and just finding the playing space,” Schmidt said. “I thought in the first half we were getting there, finding more opportunities. The second half I thought we did a lot better job of executing the game plan.”

MTSU took total offensive control in the early stages of the match, firing four shots towards WKU’s net and taking two corner kicks in the first 10 minutes of play.

WKU sophomore forward Lily Rummo fired the first shot for WKU in the 13th minute of play. Rummo launched a high shot towards the net but the ball landed in the hands of MTSU junior goalkeeper Hannah Suder.

WKU junior forward Katie Erwin almost found the back of the net in the 17th minute, but her attempt went too far left. Another opportunity in the 32nd minute again by Erwin went far left as well.

Despite a multitude of shots by both teams, the match was scoreless by the end of the first half. WKU had outshot MTSU 9-7 and 3-1 in shots on goal and had five corner kick opportunities in the first 45 minutes whereas the Blue Raiders had only three.

WKU took control of the ball early after the break, firing three shots towards the net but none on target.

The Blue Raiders received another scoring opportunity in the 53rd minute after WKU junior forward Ansley Cate was called for a yellow card, but the ensuing penalty kick was blocked by WKU graduate goalkeeper Alexis Bach.

WKU’s Schmidt finally broke through the Blue Raiders’ defenses and found the back of the net just past the 67 minute mark. MTSU created several scoring opportunities in the minutes following Schmidt’s goal but Bach was there to save all three attempts.

WKU graduate defender Avery Jacobsen broke through to score on a penalty kick in the 81st minute to give WKU a two-goal advantage.

MTSU junior defender Jennifer Francis booted in the Blue Raiders’ only goal of the night at the 88 minute mark, cutting WKU’s lead in half. The Lady Toppers’ defense held on for the remainder of the match to win 2-1.

“First thing we need to do is rest, because our team is extremely tired after two games this weekend,” Neidell said. “And then we’ve got to get in and look at some film on UAB and the scouting report and just prepare for a very good UAB team who’s always tough with their goals.”

The Lady Toppers will continue Conference USA play on Friday as they travel to Birmingham, Alabama to face off against the UAB Blazers. The match will kick off at 7 p.m. CT.

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