WKU Soccer will kick off its 2017 regular season campaign this weekend, heading south to face Lipscomb at 7 p.m. on Friday evening before making the long trip to Texas for a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee battle. WKU’s trip to Texas will mark the fifth-longest road trip in program history by mileage, as the two universities sit 920 miles apart.
The Lady Toppers come into the regular season after battling Saint Louis and Murray State in a pair of exhibition tilts last weekend. Despite dropping both contests, WKU gained valuable experience from top to bottom on its roster as four freshmen (Victoria Mayo, Ashley Leonard, Avery Jacobsen and Tally Bishop) drew their first collegiate starts, and six different freshmen saw at least 10 minutes of action in both outings.
WKU returns six starters from a team that posted a 12-6-1 record in 2016 and reached the quarterfinals of the C-USA Tournament before falling to eventual champion Charlotte on its home field. Among the returners are four of the team’s top five point-scorers, including leading scorer Chandler Backes (10 goals, one assist in 2016); also returning for the Lady Toppers are Sarah Gorham (four goals, four assists), Bria Mosley (four goals, one assist) and Hannah Chua (two goals, one assist). WKU’s 31 goals scored during the 2016 season were its most since tallying 35 during the 2012 campaign.
Defensively, Allison Leone returns between the posts for the Lady Toppers and already ranks among the top goalkeepers in program history in nearly every category. Leone made 10 saves in 154 minutes of action in WKU’s two exhibition contests, including a match-high six stops against Saint Louis last Friday evening. The senior enters her final season on The Hill with a 0.99 career goals against average and 22 solo shutouts, both of which rank behind only Libby Stout in school history.
Preseason All-C-USA pick and 2016 First Teamer Nicole Roseland is set to act as an anchor at defensive midfielder for the Lady Toppers and played all but 14 minutes against the Billikens and Racers. Roseland’s minute totals in the exhibitions were matched only by Gorham (172 of a possible 180 minutes played) and Christina Bragado (166 minutes).
WKU will meet Lipscomb for the first time since Aug. 22, 2014, a 2-0 Lady Topper victory in Nashville. The Lady Toppers are a perfect 5-0 in the all-time series against the Bisons and have outscored Lipscomb 17-2 across those five contests. Lipscomb earned victories in both of its exhibition contests, defeating ETSU (3-1) and crosstown rival Belmont (2-0); Ellen Lundy netted a trio of goals for the Bisons in those two matches, and goalkeeper Kate Mason turned in a pair of strong performances, tallying 14 saves while surrendering just one goal across 121 in net.
Sunday’s matchup will mark the first in program history against the Longhorns and will be the first time that WKU has faced a non-conference opponent from the state of Texas since earning a 1-0 win over Stephen F. Austin on Aug. 30, 2015. The Longhorns defeated Incarnate Word, 2-0, in their lone exhibition outing, and are set to face fellow C-USA foe Rice on Friday evening at 7 p.m. Katie Glenn and Cyera Hintzen each found the back of the net once for Texas in its exhibition victory, and Nicole Curry earned the solo shutout with three saves while playing the full 90 minutes in goal.
Following this weekend’s matches, WKU will return to the pitch next Friday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m. in a road battle at Austin Peay before returning to the WKU Soccer Complex for its 2017 home opener on Sunday, Aug. 27, at 1 p.m. against UT Martin. Tickets for all home matches this season are free for all fans.
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Currie P. McFayden
WKU Associate Director of Athletic Communications