The WKU soccer team suffered its second loss of the season at the WKU Soccer Complex on Thursday night, as SEC power Mississippi scored the match’s only goal in the 108th minute of the second overtime period to steal a 1-0 win.
Both of the Lady Toppers’ (2-2-1) losses so far this season have come on a golden goal in double overtime.
Head coach Jason Neidell said the loss stung the Lady Toppers just a bit more than usual because of its similarity to the team’s 3-2 loss in double overtime at Samford on Aug. 30.
“I mean, we’re one week away from the Samford game where we actually lost on a corner kick with 30 seconds left,” Neidell said postgame. “So, you know, to lose another one in a week’s span the same way leaves a little bit of a sour taste — not just in my mouth, but in all of our player’s mouths.”
In Thursday’s match against Ole Miss (4-1), WKU allowed a season-high 15 corner kicks.
The Rebels’ last corner kick of the match resulted in junior forward Channing Foster being awarded a penalty kick, which turned out to be a call that changed the entire complexion of the match.
Foster knocked home the game-winning PK after what was ruled a foul in the box to lift the Rebels over the Lady Toppers for their second win against WKU in as many years — Ole Miss also defeated WKU 4-0 in Oxford, Mississippi, on Aug. 19, 2018.
In a match where WKU was outshout 19-10, the Lady Toppers still had chances to score goals. They put five shots on goal, but sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Orkus earned the shutout for Ole Miss by playing the entire match and recording five saves.
WKU controlled the pace game for much of the first half, as the Lady Toppers recorded three shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes of play. WKU had a total of five shots in the first half.
Sophomore midfielder Ambere Barnett led the Lady Toppers in the first half with two shots.
The Lady Toppers only allowed Ole Miss six shots in the first half, with only one being on target. WKU was also the first team this season to hold Ole Miss scoreless through the first half of play.
Ole Miss came out of the halftime break with a different mindset, as the Rebels maintained possession for most of the second half.
The Rebels forced WKU to play more defensively in the second half. Ole Miss saw a lot of promising opportunities throughout the frame, as they had nine shots and eight corner kicks.
Although WKU had to play to Ole Miss’ pace of the game for parts of the second half, Neidell thought his team held its own, especially during a stretch where Ulliac made three saves in an eight-minute span to prolong her shutout.
“A lot of grit,” Neidell said about what he saw on Thursday night. “Our motto for this year is relentlessness, and there was a time in the second half where we bent, but we certainly didn’t break and I think the relentlessness that our kids are showing shows on the field when they play.”
For the first time this season, senior forward Chandler Backes led the team with three shots. WKU had six different players fire at least one shot against Ole Miss, with five of those players’ shots being on target.
Barnett, Kaylyn Bryant, Avery Jacobsen and reigning Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week Christina Bragado all played the entire 108 minutes against Ole Miss.
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Anne-Marie Ulliac also played the full match for the Lady Toppers, as she recorded a season-high eight saves in the contest.
Ulliac said postgame that WKU is focused on its next opponent and getting its next win in non-conference play, even after the team's tough loss to the Rebels.
“We’ve been through these overtime situations in the past and we are just really always trying to like push hard, work — I’m not going to comment on anything else,” Ulliac said in relation to the game’s controversial ending. “But I’m really proud of the effort that the girls put in right into that like, what, 105th minute? It’s amazing how they keep working.”
Following the loss, the Lady Toppers will be inactive for eight days before resuming their program-record home stand against first-year program Southern Illinois on Friday, Sept. 13. WKU is also slated to meet Alabama A&M just two days later on Sunday, Sept. 15.