The fifth-seeded WKU soccer team (10-7-1) was defeated by fourth-seeded Charlotte (13-5) in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Tournament in Denton, Texas, on Wednesday, as 49er senior Megan Greene scored twice to defeat WKU 2-1 at the Mean Green Soccer Complex.
WKU ended a two-year C-USA Tournament drought by making it into the 2019 field, but the Lady Toppers still haven't been able to win a game in four trips to the C-USA postseason.
The Lady Toppers fell 3-2 in overtime to Charlotte at the WKU Soccer Complex earlier this season, and after the 49ers managed to defeat the WKU once more, the WKU soccer program’s 2019 season was officially brought to a screeching halt.
Charlotte eliminated WKU the last time the two teams met in the conference tournament in 2016, and the 49ers axed the Lady Toppers from postseason contention yet again in 2019.
In their lone C-USA Tournament game, the Lady Toppers were led by senior forward Chandler Backes and her third goal of the season.
Sophomore midfielder Ambere Barnett led the Lady Toppers with shots on goal with four, while senior goalkeeper Anne-Marie Ulliac played the full 90 minutes and made three saves.
Senior defender Riley Orr led Charlotte in attempted shots with five and junior goalkeeper Abby Stapleton made five saves to earn the quarterfinal victory.
Both WKU and Charlotte had six total shots on goal during the game.
The first half between the Lady Toppers and 49ers saw Charlotte come down the field in the first minute and test the defense early. Sophomore forward Michaella Arteta penetrated the WKU defense and fired a dangerous shot, but it failed to reach Ulliac.
Following the charge by the 49ers, Barnett fired the first shot on net of the contest at the 12:24 mark, but Stapleton dived on the ball and made the save.
On the other side of the field, Ulliac made her first save of the game on 49er freshman forward Julia Patrum’s shot at the 15:56 mark.
The Lady Toppers got on the board first when Backes netted her third goal of the season in the 22nd minute. She evaded a few 49er defenders, beat Stapleton short side on the right side of the goal and put WKU on the board 1-0.
Freshman forward Ansley Cate fired another shot on net in the 32nd minute mark. She was feet away inside the box, but Stapleton made the bottom center save to prevent consecutive goals.
The 49ers answered back, prevailing at 39:33 mark to tie the game 1-1 before halftime when Greene notched her team-leading ninth goal of the season.
At halftime, the Lady Toppers headed into the break knotted with the 49ers. Each side had three shots on net, the 49ers had seven corner kicks and the Lady Toppers had five before the break.
The second half started off with junior forward Victoria Mayo firing a shot, but it missed the 49er net far left 56 seconds into the half.
Following the early play, the 49ers’ Orr answered back and fired a shot wide of Ulliac at the 47:02 mark of the second half.
Barnett fired two consecutive shots on goal in the 59th and 60th minutes, but Stapleton made the necessary stops to keep the contest tied 1-1.
The 49ers later rushed down the field to capitalize on a scoring opportunity. Following a flurry of close-range shots from Charlotte, Greene managed to net her second goal of the contest.
Patrum fired the initial shot and Ulliac made the save, but it led to an open rebound. Forwards Orr and senior Jamie Fankhauser picked up the assists on Greene’s scoring play, which put the 49ers up 2-1 over the Lady Toppers at the 61:45 mark of the second half.
Junior forward Ashley Leonard responded following the second goal from the 49ers, firing a shot at the 74:52 mark that missed the top of the goal.
Barnett made another last-ditch effort for the Lady Toppers when she put a shot on net at the 82:44 mark of the second half, but Stapleton managed to notch her fifth save of the contest.
The action was stopped with under two minutes left in the game due to lightning in the area, and play didn’t resume until an extended weather delay had completely elapsed.
Both teams returned to the field after 30 minutes, but WKU was unable to score the equalizer in the last 1:54 of clock time.
With the win, Charlotte will meet first-seeded Florida Atlantic in the C-USA semifinals on Friday.
FAU (14-3-2) defeated Louisiana Tech (13-4-3) 4-3 in PKs after a scoreless regulation period in its quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday afternoon.
Following a loss in their first-round matchup, four WKU seniors will depart from the Hill.
The group of key upperclassmen guided WKU to a 2019 campaign that featured the Lady Toppers’ first 10-win season since 2016 and the 14th 10-win season in program history.