In its 2018 C-USA opener on Sunday afternoon, WKU fell 1-0 on a Southern Miss golden goal in overtime at the USM Soccer Complex.
WKU (2-4-2) outshot Southern Miss 11-10 and held the Golden Eagles to just a pair of shots on goal on the afternoon, but could not find the back of the net despite several chances throughout the match.
Chandler Backes led the way offensively for the Lady Toppers with three shots, including one on goal late in regulation that nearly became the match-winner. In goal, Bailee Witt played the full 96 minutes and made a key save early in the second half to keep the scoreline even at the time.
The win was the seventh in a row for Southern Miss (7-1), which has not dropped a match since its season opener against Mississippi State on Aug. 16. Stephanie Garcia had a match-high five shots for the Golden Eagles, while Miah Zuazua tallied the golden goal in overtime to secure the win. Kendell Mindnich played the full match in goal, making four saves to earn the clean sheet.
In the opening 10 minutes of the match, WKU weathered a pair of Southern Miss corner kicks, clearing out both of the set piece opportunities as a shot off the second sailed well wide of the goal. The Lady Toppers answered back with a shot of their own from Backes in the 10th minute, but the junior’s chance was also wide as the two teams remained deadlocked early.
Ten minutes later, Southern Miss nearly jumped in front off a header from Zuazua inside the box. Set up by a free kick, she got her head on the ball and sent it toward goal; the chance went just over the crossbar, however, as Witt covered the top of the goal to stonewall the Golden Eagles’ leading scorer.
Nicole Roseland had a pair of corner kicks in the final 12 minutes of action in the first half, including one in the closing seconds, but the Lady Toppers were unable to generate a shot off the corners as the two teams headed into the locker room without a goal.
Both teams traded chances in the opening minutes of the second half, with Roseland’s rocket from outside the box highlighting WKU’s attack. The senior pulled back from 25 yards and fired toward goal, forcing Mindnich to dive to her left and parry the ball out for a corner kick. Two minutes later, Garcia had a chance for the Golden Eagles, but Witt was there for her first save of the afternoon.
Both Lyric Schmidt and Backes put shots on goal in the closing minutes of regulation. Schmidt’s try came from distance after Southern Miss failed to clear out a corner in the 79th minute; the defender got power behind the shot but was too far out to threaten the Southern Miss goalkeeper who managed to snag the ball in midair. With just over three minutes left, Backes nearly found the winner from close range but again was denied by Mindnich.
Zuazua gave Southern Miss the victory in the first overtime period, set up by a long shot from the right sideline. Hannah Abrams played the ball in and Zuazua slid to make contact with the ball inside the box, changing the trajectory just enough to find the back of the net for the golden goal.
Following Sunday’s match, the Lady Toppers will be off until the following Sunday, Sept. 23, when the team travels to Ruston, La., to take on the Lady Techsters of Louisiana Tech. WKU will then play two more matches on the road before returning to the WKU Soccer Complex on Friday, Oct. 5, at 6 p.m. as the Lady Toppers host FIU in their C-USA home opener.
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Currie P. McFayden
WKU Associate Director of Athletic Communications