WKU nearly pulled even on several occasions throughout the second half, but an early goal in the seventh minute from Vanderbilt gave the visitors a 1-0 victory at the WKU Soccer Complex on Friday evening.
Much like last season’s 1-0 decision against LSU, the Lady Toppers could not quite capitalize on opportunities to equalize over the final 45 minutes following Olivia Simmons’ match-winner. Aleksandra Kozovic generated the best chance of the night for WKU off a free kick in the 56th minute, lining up the chance from 30 yards out and firing directly on goal, but the chance struck the center of the crossbar and cleared the goal to end the threat.
Kozovic led all players with three shots on the night, and both Sarah Gorham and Chandler Backes had one chance apiece, with Gorham notching WKU’s lone shot on goal. For Vanderbilt, Simmons, Grace Jackson and Hannon Eberts each had one shot on goal.
In goal, Allison Leone made one save in each half to keep the Lady Toppers within one goal and played the full 90 minutes for the fifth time in six matches this season. Kaitlyn Fahrner also played the full 90 minutes for the Commodores and made one save to earn the shutout victory.
Vanderbilt jumped ahead just over six minutes into the match, taking a 1-0 lead on Simmons’ shot just in front of the goal. Set up by Madison Elwell’s corner kick, the ball bounced around inside the box as WKU’s defenders attempted to clear away the threat. The Commodores’ Rebecca Rossett settled the ball and Simmons fired her chance past Leone to force WKU into an early hole in the match.
WKU had its first threat of the evening beginning in the 16th minute. As the offense brought the ball up the field, Kozovic had a long shot blocked over the line by a defender, setting up a corner kick opportunity from the right side for the Lady Toppers. Another corner kick would follow two minutes later, but WKU could not put a shot on goal off the set piece chances.
Gorham gave the Lady Toppers their best scoring chance of the half in the 26th minute as she broke free and found herself in space. The redshirt junior tested Fahrner with a hard shot, but the goalkeeper dove to her left and parried away the chance; WKU had another corner kick created by the try but again could not capitalize.
Leone kept WKU within striking distance just before the halftime break as she denied Vanderbilt’s Eberts on a strong shot inside the box, sending the Lady Toppers into the locker room facing just a one-goal deficit.
In the second half, Kozovic’s aforementioned free kick produced the best scoring opportunity for the Lady Toppers, and a Backes header in the final minute of play sailed just over the bar as WKU applied strong pressure while seeking a late equalizer.
WKU will conclude the non-conference portion of its 2017 schedule on Sunday afternoon at the WKU Soccer Complex, hosting Samford at 1 p.m. As with all of WKU’s home matches this season, admission will be free for all fans; Sunday’s match is also Elementary Education and Big Red’s Rascals Day, as the Lady Toppers encourage young fans and their friends and family to come out and support the team.
– @WKUSports –
Currie P. McFayden
WKU Associate Director of Athletic Communications