WKU Soccer: Lady Tops notch 200th program win

MIAMI At the beginning of the week, WKU soccer knew it had a tough stretch ahead with road matches at UTEP and then three days later at FIU. The Lady Toppers didn’t falter, winning both matches including Sunday’s decisive 3-1 win against the Panthers for head coach Jason Neidell’s and the program’s 200th all-time victory.

“The 200th win is a great milestone for our program and an incredible testament to the sweat and tears of all former and current players,” said Neidell.

WKU improves to 8-4-1 on the season and 4-2 in conference play. The Lady Toppers now have 12 points in Conference USA standings.

The match was fruitless for both teams early, although WKU mostly controlled possession from first kick. Five minutes before halftime the Lady Tops were awarded a free kick from about 40 yards out. Ashley Leonard took the kick for WKU and sailed the ball inside the back, right corner of the box where it bounced and rolled across the goal line.

Less than a minute later, FIU answered with a goal off of a corner kick. The score was all tied up at halftime.

In the 51st minute, WKU retook the lead for good. The Lady Toppers were on a counter attack after regaining possession from a previous play. Ambere Barnett penetrated the Panther defense, drawing a defender to her and finding Deven Jackson open in the box on a perfectly placed cross. Jackson one-touched it and sent it home for what proved to be the game-winner.

As the clock ran down, the Lady Toppers were able to seal the win with a third goal in the 82nd minute. WKU was awarded a corner kick and Ansley Cate scored off the set piece off the kick from Aleksandra Kozovic.

“This weekend was as tough a road test as I’ve experienced with any team, traveling across the country to play UTEP and then back across the country to play in the heat today against FIU,” said Neidell. “I’m so proud of our kids for finding the reserves to play a hard-fought second half and find a way to win.”

Leonard, WKU’s leading goal scorer this season, got her seventh of the year and 13th of her career. Jackson’s goal moves her to four on the year and gives her 10 points in 2019. It was the second goal of the week for Cate who scored the lone goal for WKU on Thursday against UTEP.

Anne-Marie Ulliac had a pair of saves on the day.

The Lady Toppers have now won five-straight against FIU and improve the overall series record to 8-3-3.

WKU will continue its road stretch next week in Texas. The Lady Toppers will take on a pair of currently undefeated in conference play teams with Friday’s match at North Texas (9-3, 4-0 C-USA) and Sunday’s at Rice (6-4-1, 3-0-1 C-USA).