WKU extends win streak to five, Belcher notches second career goal against Marshall

Freshman Ellie Belcher hit a header goal during the game against Marshall Thursday, March 18, 2021. The Lady Topper went on to win 2-1 over the Thundering Herd. 

Ian Fleischman

The Lady Toppers (5-1-1), (3-0-1, C-USA) hosted Marshall (2-3), (0-2, C-USA) at the WKU Soccer Complex to continue their Conference USA play on Thursday night.

The Lady Toppers pulled out a 2-1 victory over The Thundering Herd at home.

Freshman Ellie Belcher and sophomore Ansley Cate led the way for the Lady Toppers scoring one goal apiece. Micheels and Erwin both notched one assist on the night. 

Head coach Jason Neidell stated he is really proud of Ellie Belcher’s play this season.

“It’s really neat to have a hometown girl have the kind of success that she’s having so early in her career.” Neidell said. “I think the mentality that she brings gives her a chance for success every-every day, but she’s been exceptional.”

Lately, WKU has played outstanding on offense and defense in the first seven games, and they continued that success to extend their win-streak to five in a row. 

WKU led Marshall in shots on goal 8-3, and corner kicks 15-4. Marshall was forced to make six saves whereas WKU had two. 

WKU’s sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Kobylinski has continued to hold down the fort for the Lady Toppers on defense with two shutouts on the season which is second in C-USA.

WKU is now 7-1-0 all-time against Marshall, and have not lost to Marshall since the 2015 season. WKU’s most recent victory over Marshall was Nov. 11, 2019 where they won 3-1.

Marshall is coming off a 2-1 victory over Appalachian State last Saturday. The Thundering Herd have been outshot by opponents 61-30 this season. Marshall hoped to utilize freshman forward Abi Hugh and sophomore forward Morgan White who are both in the top three of C-USA for points per game.

Junior Midfielder Barnett started attacking early with a shot attempt at the first minute, and Thundering Herd sophomore goalkeeper Courtney McVicker was there to make the save.

WKU’s Belcher struck first blood at the 26th minute off an assist from freshman midfielder Brina Micheels. WKU took the early lead 1-0 in the first half of play.

The Lady Toppers went into the halftime break with a 1-0 lead over Marshall. WKU outshot Marshall 9-3. The Thundering Herd led in saves 5-1 by this point in the contest. 

When asked about the outstanding defensive play Neidell stated the centre-backs have incredible chemistry.

“They all have incredible chemistry together, and their communication has been improving every game.” Neidell said. “There’s a lot of leadership in the middle. It makes it a little bit easier on Ellie, who’s a freshman playing on the left side and Chelsea Moore a veteran but playing a new position.”

It was a defensive first half for both teams, and heading into the second half WKU fired more shots on net than in the first half.

Graduate Metzli Gonzalez scored Marshall’s of the game at the 55th minute on a penalty kick to knot the game up at one 

Sophomore forward Ansley Cate brought WKU back into the lead with her goal at the 63rd minute off sophomore forward Katie Erwin’s assist. The Lady Toppers led 2-1.

Cate stated putting pressure on opposing teams has created a lot of opportunities for them. 

“Part of our philosophy is pressing their team and that brings lots of our success,” Cate said. “I think many of our opportunities come from getting pressure on the defense and making them face their own goal or just counterattack.”

Soccer beat reporter Ian Fleischman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ian_fleischman.