Lady Toppers win 3-2 overtime thriller against FIU, Sleeva scores first-ever collegiate goal


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 (10-2-0, 5-1-0 C-USA) defeated the FIU Golden Panthers (1-11-2, 0-4-2 C-USA) in a 3-2 overtime thriller in Miami on Friday night. WKU hasn’t held a better record after 12 matches since the 2008 season and the Lady Toppers are now 4-0 in overtime games.

“We are extremely happy with the win and crucial three points on the road,” head coach Jason Neidell said in a press release. “With a two-goal lead early, we got a little too comfortable and it almost bit us. It was a valuable lesson for this group. We look forward to returning to our home pitch and celebrating our seniors on Sunday.”

WKU sophomore midfielder Brina Micheels, junior forward Katie Erwin and freshman forward Brooke Sleeva all played significant roles in the victory as each notched a goal in WKU’s successful effort to bounce back from last Friday night’s heartbreaking loss to Old Dominion.

Sleeva provided the golden goal four minutes into overtime to claim the victory after a scoreless second half from the red and white. It was the first-ever goal of her collegiate career.

WKU outshot FIU 21-5 and 6-4 in shots on goal while also leading the Panthers 2-1 in assists, 4-2 in corner kick opportunities and 6-4 in fouls.

WKU picked up the lead early on as Micheels received a pass from sophomore forward Lily Rummo and launched the ball into the back of the net in the sixth minute.

WKU’s offense continued to showcase its aggression as Erwin took a shot in the ninth minute followed by a shot taken by junior forward Ansley Cate a minute later.

Erwin recorded a direct hit in the 20th minute to put her team up 2-0. The Panthers fought back, as FIU freshman forward Noemi Paquin received credit for an assist when a WKU own-goal put FIU on the board in the 27th minute.

By halftime, the Lady Toppers held the lead and had outshot their opponents 10-1 and 4-1 in shots on goal.

FIU tied up the match 2-2 just past the 67-minute mark when Paquin found the back of the net to notch the equalizer. FIU sophomore midfielder Dominique Marcelli fired another on-target attempt in the 71st minute of play but WKU graduate goalkeeper Alexis Bach saved the shot to keep things tied up.

FIU senior midfielder Jessica Magerman had an opportunity in the 84th minute but shot wide. A corner kick gave Magerman another shot, but Bach was there to stop it.

Micheels took a final shot with 89:59 on the clock but her shot was blocked and the match headed into overtime.

Micheels got another look at minute 91 followed by WKU sophomore midfielder Annah Hopkins but both shots were off. Senior defender Lyric Schmidt also had an opportunity to end the match in the 93rd minute but her shot was too high.

Sleeva eventually found an opening, scoring in the 94th minute of play to notch the golden goal to defeat FIU 3-2 in overtime.

The Lady Toppers will be back in action on senior Sunday, Oct. 17, as they take on the UTEP Miners at the WKU Soccer Complex for their penultimate home match of the season. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. CT.

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