WKU Soccer addresses media ahead of season debut


Joseph Thompson III

Ambere Barnett, head coach Jason Nediell, and Lyric Schmidt field question from the media in Diddle Arena on Monday, Aug 15.

Joseph Thompson III, Sports Editor

WKU Soccer team held its annual media day Monday afternoon in the Paul Just Media Center inside Diddle Arena to discuss its preseason performance and the upcoming 2022 season.

The Lady Toppers competed in two preseason games to get into playing shape. WKU faced off against Murray State on Aug. 10, which resulted in a 0-0 tie. The two teams agreed to penalty kicks to decide a winner and the Lady Toppers came out victorious 4-2.

WKU concluded its preseason schedule with another tie against Austin Peay University on Aug. 14. The Lady Toppers scored the first two goals of the game before the Governors responded with two goals of their own. Afton Schraml stopped a Governor win with a crucial save with less than 90 seconds remaining to preserve the draw. 

“I was pretty excited about what we saw from both veteran players and younger players,” head coach Jason Neidell said on exhibition play. “Obviously, in the Exhibition we really want to win the games, but it is more about getting players experience and getting them ready.”

The Lady Toppers finished last season 10-5-1 and 5-2-1 in league play, placing second in the East division. All but three starters return from last year.

Coach Neidell raved about the energy around the team heading into this season and believes the team has a very high ceiling.

“The vibe has been tremendous,” Neidell said. “I think our training has been very very spirited. People come with a smile, positive attitude, there has been a really positive vibe on the team.”

Neidell also expressed how important culture is for a winning program and said he believes his group of athletes has done a tremendous job establishing a winning culture for WKU Soccer.

“You know, in college sports, you spend so much time together both on and off the field that if  you don’t have a really positive team culture, you’re dead in the water regardless of what your talent level is,” Neidell said.

The Lady Topper faithful will finally see the return of Ambere Barnett, 2020 Conference USA Player and Midfielder of the year, after she missed all of last season due to injury. 

“I honestly learned a lot last year,” Barnett said. “Being a starter for a while, you don’t see the things that happen off the field. You see the players on the bench and you uplift them in so many different ways. That was kind of the role that I took, and the players that were on the field, I would always let them know that I’m there for them. I think the chemistry that I have with my teammates has grown way more than before. I really feel like I am closer to my teammates now and able to help them in any way that I can”

The Lady Toppers will also return fifth-year senior Lyric Schmidt. Schmidt told the media that the team really got after it in the offseason and she feels the team is prepared for the year.

“A lot of us in the summer played on a summer team,” Schmidt said. “I’m really proud of our team for taking charge of what we need to do. So, I think we are going to be really prepared for the season.”

The Lady Toppers will open the regular season against Xavier University on Thursday, Aug. 18. The team’s home opener will be against Union University on Saturday, Aug. 20.