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Chandler Backes, WKU Junior, gets a lead on the ball and moves it accross the field right before WKU gets their second goal of the night. WKU won the game 4-0 against FIU on Friday, October 5.

WKU soccer head coach Jason Neidell unveiled his squad's complete 2019 schedule Thursday. The Lady Toppers' slate this fall will feature seven non-conference matches, nine home matches and two meetings with Southeastern Conference schools.

“This is a very challenging schedule for our team. We play two SEC schools in the first two weeks of the season, so we have to be ready to play at a high level right away,” Neidell said in a press release. “Our strong non-conference schedule will get us ready to compete in C-USA; we’ve finished the year well in the past two seasons against good competition, and one of our main goals this year is to play our way back into the C-USA Tournament in November with a strong showing.”

The 2019 campaign will open with a trio of home exhibition matches this August. The Lady Toppers will welcome in-state opponent Murray State on Aug. 14, Wright State on Aug. 16 and Austin Peay on Aug. 18 as part of their preseason preparations.

The Lady Toppers will start their 17-match regular season slate at the WKU Soccer Complex for the first time since 2015, squaring off against Belmont on Aug. 22. WKU will travel to Lexington three days later to play in-state rival Kentucky in an early marquee non-conference matchup.

WKU will travel to Murfreesboro on Sept. 1 to face off against rival Middle Tennessee in a non-conference match. Though the pair are both in Conference USA, the match will not be considered a conference clash. The current series between WKU and Middle Tennessee is knotted at 6-6-6 across 18 meetings. 

The Lady Toppers begin a seven-game homestand — the longest such stretch in program history — against SEC foe Mississippi on Sept. 5. Ole Miss last visited WKU in 2008, when the Lady Toppers beat the Rebels 2-1 in an overtime battle.

Before wrapping up non-conference play, the Lady Toppers are set to face Southern Illinois on Sept. 13 and Alabama A&M on Sept. 15. The SIU Salukis, a first-year program, are coached by Grant Williams, who served as a volunteer assistant for the Lady Toppers from 2006-2009.

WKU will get its sixth season of C-USA play started on Sept. 21 when Southern Mississippi travels to Bowling Green for an afternoon kickoff. The Lady Toppers have four consecutive home games scheduled to start conference play. WKU will also receive visits from Louisiana Tech on Sept. 29, Charlotte on Oct. 3 and Old Dominion on Oct. 6.

WKU will then hit the road for a slate of four consecutive road games in October. The Lady Toppers start their road trip in El Paso, Texas, on Oct. 10 against Texas-El Paso. WKU will travel south three days later for a match against Florida International on Oct. 13. The Lady Toppers will end their road trip as they travel back to Texas for matches against North Texas on Oct. 18 and Rice on Oct. 20.

WKU returns home to the WKU Soccer Complex for Senior Night on Oct. 25, when the Lady Toppers will square off against C-USA foe Alabama-Birmingham. WKU wraps up regular season play in Huntington, West Virginia, on Nov. 1 against Marshall.

The 2019 C-USA Tournament will be hosted at North Texas from Nov. 6-10 at the Mean Green Soccer Stadium. The top eight teams in the regular season standings will qualify for the conference tournament.

WKU will look to improve its 5-8-4 mark from a year ago, and also make its first conference tournament appearance since 2016.

Reporter Elliott Wells can be reached at 270-745-6291 and douglas.wells357@topper.wku.edu.