Lady Toppers expecting ‘enormous challenge’ from ODU in battle for division

WKU+Hiltoppers+junior+midfielder+Lucy+Lyon+%2819%29+competes+against+Ole+Miss+Rebels+senior+Channing+Foster+%2812%29+for+control+of+the+ball+during+the+Sunday+afternoon+match.

ARTHUR TRICKETT-WILE

WKU Hiltoppers’ junior midfielder Lucy Lyon (19) competes against Ole Miss Rebels’ senior Channing Foster (12) for control of the ball during the Sunday afternoon match.

Drew Toennies, Soccer reporter

The Lady Toppers (9-1-0, 4-0-0 C-USA) will battle the Old Dominion Monarchs (8-3-0, 4-0-0 C-USA) at the WKU Soccer Complex this evening for the top spot in the conference’s east division.

“ODU is an enormous challenge,” WKU head coach Jason Neidell said. “They are a very good team defensively, they don’t give up a lot of opportunities on goal and then they are very dynamic and creative, building through the middle of the field, and they’re going to present some pretty big challenges for us.”

The Lady Toppers have never defeated the Monarchs before. They have suffered five losses and drawn once against their east division foe.

“ODU is a really difficult team, especially for us,” WKU junior forward Katie Erwin said. “The matchup between the two is very opposite… going back to that scouting report, our coaches are really good at scouting teams and knowing how to break them down, so as long as we’re executing and understanding that to our full potential, I think we’ll have more success.”

The Lady Toppers have remained undefeated in conference play so far this season, taking down Marshall, MTSU and UAB as well as shutting out the reigning Conference USA tournament champion Rice Owls 2-0 last Saturday evening.

WKU graduate defender Avery Jacobsen and junior forward Katie Erwin were the offensive players of the game as Jacobsen scored off a penalty kick in the 41st minute of play and Erwin notched another goal in the 88th minute.

The Old Dominion Monarchs kicked off their season at the ODU Soccer Complex with a 2-1 overtime win over East Carolina before suffering a loss against NC State at home. The Monarchs shut out William & Mary on the road before returning home to be shut out by VCU 2-0. ODU then took down Richmond 3-1 and shut out American University 2-0. The Monarchs competed in a rematch against East Carolina this past Sunday in which they fell 1-0.

The Monarchs opened conference play with a 2-0 shutout victory over UTSA followed by a 1-0 win over UAB. The Monarchs blanked MTSU 2-0 the following week and then defeated Marshall 4-0. ODU has yet to surrender a goal to any of its conference foes.

“They’re a great team,” Jacobsen said. “They play great possession-style soccer and I think that we’re gonna have to be on our front foot right away and try to get the ball in the back of the net early and defend hard. It’ll be a good test for us and a good challenge.”

ODU junior forward Carla Morich is the Monarchs’ best offensive player. The Hamburg, Germany native has 12 points on the season from four goals and four assists.

Junior forward Megan Watts is the next-best offensive performer on the roster, providing four goals and one assist on the season for a total of nine points.

The Lady Toppers will face off against the Monarchs for the top spot in the east division tonight at 6 p.m. CT at the WKU Soccer Complex.

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