WKU shuts out Louisville, Hopkins scores lone goal

The Lady Toppers celebrate freshman Annah Hopkins’ goal against Louisville on March 27, 2021. 

Drew Toennies

WKU (6-1-1), (3-0-1, C-USA) took down the Louisville Cardinals (5-7), (4-4, ACC) 1-0 at the WKU Soccer Complex in a cloudy Saturday afternoon matinee matchup.

With WKU taking their sixth win today against Louisville, the Lady Toppers are now on their best start in program history since 2008.

“Because it’s been an abbreviated season and we haven’t had much time to really tinker and experiment with anything or throw too many wrinkles into how we play, we’ve been preaching fundamentals and details, doing the simple things well,” head coach Jason Neidell said.

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The Hilltoppers would score in the first two minutes courtesy of a shot from freshman Annah Hopkins. Sophomore Sydney Ernst picked up the assist on the first goal of the match.

“Obviously it was huge,” Neidell said about freshman Annah Hopkin’s goal. “One of the goals we had for the match was to score in the first 15 minutes.”

The goal by Hopkins would be the deciding factor of the game as neither team would land any more goals.

“It was an amazing feeling,” Hopkins said. “It was definitely a team effort, we came out strong and we finished strong.”

At 9:13 and 7:47, Louisville would have scoring opportunities with two corner kicks, but both attempts would be foiled by WKU’s defense.

In the 22nd minute of play, freshman Brina Micheels took a shot on the net but would have it deflected and then saved by redshirt senior goalkeeper Gabby Kouzelos.

The Lady Toppers would be awarded a corner kick at 25:22 and 25:54, but the Cardinals defended both attempts to keep the deficit to one.

At 31:18, sophomore Katie Erwin took a shot on goal, but the ball would be caught by Louisville’s Kouzelos. Sophomore Katie Erwin would fire WKU’s third shot on goal at the 31st minute, and at this point in the contest, the Cardinals had yet to have a shot land on the Lady Toppers net. 

Before the half at 37:03, Erwin would take another shot, but it would not reach the back of the net as Kouzalos would pick up another save.

In the closing minutes before halftime, Lucy Lyons took a shot on goal that would be saved at 42:35.

At halftime, the Lady Toppers paced the Cardinals in shots on net 5-0 and attempted shots 7-1.

“We’ve just had really great team chemistry this year and I think that’s the most important thing a team needs,” Hopkins said. “We’ve just kept improving and I’m really proud of how we’ve held our heads high and just kept working.”

Coming out of the break, WKU sophomore Ansley Cate took a shot on goal in the 47th minute of play that was caught by Kouzelos.

Louisville would get another opportunity to score as they took a shot at 52:21, but it would land into the hands of sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Kobylinski.

With 30 minutes left in the game, WKU still had a 1-0 lead on Louisville. At 29:45, the Lady Toppers were awarded a corner kick that would result in a foul by Louisville freshman Savina Zamborini to give WKU another scoring chance.

Although a shot by junior Ambere Barnett was not on target, the Lady Toppers would regain the ball and make another drive down the field, which would not end in another score.

A shot by Louisville at 68:31 would get dangerously close to tieing the game, but Kobylinski would get a touch on the ball to save WKU’s one point lead.

With less than 20 minutes left in regulation, Louisville had a corner kick opportunity, but they would once again fall short of scoring.

With 10 minutes left in regulation, the Lady Toppers would continue to put pressure on Louisville’s defense as they were awarded another corner kick.

With less than five minutes left, the Cardinals were in position to score yet again as they were awarded another corner kick, but another great save from Kobylinski would end the Cardinal’s final scoring threat.

The Lady Toppers would hold on to its lone goal to take down the Cardinals. This is the first time WKU has taken down Louisville on the pitch after the first two matches in 2005 and 2006. 

Up next the Lady Toppers will take on conference foe, the Old Dominion Monarchs on April 2 at 6 p.m. for the final road regular season match of the season.

“We’re in the process of reviewing some film on ODU,” Neidell said. “They’re a very good opponent. So, we’ll sit down on Monday and map out the week of what our preparation is going to look like.”

WKU will conclude the regular season on April 9 at 6 p.m. against Charlotte. 

Sports reporter Drew Toennies at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @drew_toennies.