Tally Bishop scored her first collegiate goal less than five minutes into the contest, and sophomore Chandler Backes added the insurance goal for WKU in the second half as the Lady Toppers claimed a 2-0 shutout victory over Lipscomb at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex to open their season on Friday evening.
Bishop, who drew the start in her first official match on The Hill, was set up by Backes and Hannah Chua on the first shot of her career for the early goal. That was one of a team-best three shots for the freshman on the night, tied alongside Sarah Gorham. Chua and Backes also each notched a pair of shots on the night as the Lady Toppers and Bisons were even, 14-14, in attempts.
Olivia Doak led all players with four shots but did not put any on target. Of Lipscomb’s 14 shots on the evening, the stout WKU defense limited them to just three shots on goal.
Allison Leone earned her 23rd career solo shutout after playing the full 90 minutes with three saves between the posts for WKU. For Lipscomb, Kate Mason also played the full match and made six saves, but surrendered a goal in each half to reach the final scoreline.
WKU began the night with an offensive barrage over the opening five minutes of the match, culminating in Bishop’s first collegiate goal at the 4:53 mark off assists from Backes and Chua. Backes forced Mason into action just 44 seconds into the match and Megan Morris sent an attempt just wide three minutes later, but Bishop buried her first career shot to give the Lady Toppers an early 1-0 lead.
Bishop’s opening goal also marked the third straight season that a true freshman has scored in the season opener for WKU. In 2015, Hannah Cady tallied a goal in her first collegiate match against UT Martin, while Backes and Kaylyn Bryant each found the back of the net in their debuts last season, also against the Skyhawks.
Just short of the 20-minute mark, Leone was pressed into her first save of the season against Lipscomb’s Niamh Rawlins and the Lady Toppers immediately went on the counter. Gorham fired a shot just 40 seconds later that Mason saved, and the redshirt junior again found space less than a minute later but sent her attempt just wide of the net.
Brooke Brenner nearly brought the Bisons level in the 41st minute on a strong shot inside the box, but her attempt struck the crossbar and set up a corner kick for Lipscomb. Off the set piece, Doak fired a shot toward the goal but could not keep the attempt low, causing it to sail over the bar and end the offensive threat as WKU carried a 1-0 advantage into the halftime break.
Much like the first half, the Lady Toppers came out hot offensively over the first two minutes out of the break. Bishop’s strong shot was parried away by Mason, and Aleksandra Kozovic took the ensuing corner for the Lady Toppers but could not create a scoring chance.
At the 64:19 mark, WKU doubled its lead off Backes’ strike that was assisted by Bishop for her third point of the evening. Pressured by another WKU shot on goal from Nahyo Jalajel just two minutes earlier, Mason could not get in position to make the save as Backes netted her 11th career goal to double the WKU advantage to 2-0.
Lipscomb nearly responded just 40 seconds later with a shot from Natalie DuBoise, but Leone stepped up for her final save of the night to preserve the shutout victory. WKU’s defense held the Bisons without a shot on goal over the final 25 minutes to push the team to its season-opening victory.
WKU will return to action on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. as the Lady Toppers make the long trip west to face Texas. The meeting will be the first in program history between the two sides and is the fifth-longest road trip by mileage in school history at 920 miles. The Longhorns defeated Rice, 2-1, in their season opener on Friday evening behind goals from Haley Berg and Cyera Hintzen.
The Lady Toppers will play their first home match of 2017 at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27, against UT Martin at the WKU Soccer Complex. For the 2017 season, all fans of WKU Soccer will receive free admission to all nine home matches, including five C-USA tilts later in the season.
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Currie P. McFayden
WKU Associate Director of Athletic Communications