Lady Toppers take down Blazers in final seconds of double overtime

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Brittany Fisher

Western Kentucky University Lady Toppers celebrate after Brina Micheels scores the winning goal on a penalty kick against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Thursday Aug. 26, 2021. The Lady Toppers defeated Vanderbilt 3-2.

Drew Toennies, Soccer reporter

The Lady Toppers (8-1-0, 3-0-0 C-USA) traveled to Birmingham, Alabama and defeated the UAB Blazers (2-7-2, 1-2-0 C-USA) 1-0 in a double overtime thriller at BBVA Field on Friday night.

WKU improves to 4-0-0 on the road and the win marked the team’s third overtime victory of the season. 

“I am so excited for this group and extremely proud of them,” head coach Jason Neidell said after the game. “UAB is such a quality side, and there were just so many momentum shifts throughout the match. I challenged our team before overtime to bring more to the game in every respect. We really dug deep in overtime and just found that little extra to take us over the top.”

WKU freshman midfielder Briana Sayoc played the hero of the match. Sayoc notched the game-winning goal in the 109th minute of play in the second overtime period to prevent a draw.

“Briana Sayoc is going to do big things in a Lady Topper uniform,” Neidell said. “She has been so eager to learn and grow and be patient in the process. And when her number was called tonight, she was ready to impact this team in a big moment of individual brilliance. I’m so proud of her.”

The Blazers outshot the Lady Toppers 17-14 and 5-4 in shots on goal while both teams were awarded seven corner kicks. UAB out-fouled WKU 7-6 and both teams were called for offsides once during the match.

WKU junior forward Ansley Cate had the first scoring opportunity of the match in the fifth minute of play as she struck the ball towards the low center of the net. UAB sophomore goalkeeper Anika Toth was there to bat away the shot.

WKU sophomore forward Lily Rummo and sophomore defender Ellie Belcher then took a combined three shots that were close to finding the back of the net but were just slightly off target.

UAB junior defender Lizzie Hill, freshman forward Laura Zemberyova, senior forward Lexxe Lipsey and senior midfielder Stella Kiss had combined for five shots towards WKU’s net by the 37th minute.

Neither team scored in the first half of play. UAB had outshot WKU 8-7 and 3-2 in shots on goal entering the break.

UAB freshman midfielder Carlyn Presley launched a shot towards goal in the 50th minute but WKU graduate goalkeeper Alexis Bach saved the shot.

UAB junior midfielder Morgan Halliwill took aim at WKU’s net in the 62nd minute but her attempt ricocheted off the crossbar. Three minutes later another UAB shot, this one taken by Zemberyova, was blocked as well.

WKU junior forward Katie Erwin took aim at UAB’s net at the 69-minute mark but could not score. Sophomore midfielder Brina Micheels took WKU’s second shot of the half shortly after but the result was the same.

Both teams failed to boot in a goal by the 90 minute mark and the match entered the first overtime period. Belcher took the first shot of overtime, launching a low center shot towards the net but Toth was there to stop the Lady Toppers from scoring.

Neither side could muster any offense in the extra ten minutes of play, bringing about double overtime.

Rummo fired the ball towards the net in the 109th minute but her attempt was blocked. Sayoc then found an opening and put the ball past Toth on a long, arcing shot from outside the penalty box to sink the Blazers 1-0.

The Lady Toppers are scheduled to continue conference play in Bowling Green on Oct. 2 as WKU welcomes the Rice Owls to the WKU Soccer Complex for an evening matchup. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT.

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