EVANSVILLE, Ind. – Freshman Ambere Barnett fired two goals and assisted on a third,
and two more strikes from Aleksandra Kozovic and Sarah Gorham powered WKU to a 4-1
win at Evansville on Thursday evening for the team’s first victory of the 2018
WKU (1-2) flexed its offensive muscles against the Purple Aces (1-2) throughout the
night, tallying its most goals in a single match since also scoring four against
Evansville on Sept. 3, 2017, last season. The win was also WKU’s third straight in
the series and ran its undefeated streak against the Purple Aces to eight straight
matches dating back to 2006.
Barnett led the way for the Lady Toppers with two goals and an assist, notching only
the 18th five-point match by an individual in program history, and her two goals
marked the first time that a freshman scored multiple times in a match for WKU since
Chandler Backes did so against Morehead State on Sept. 11, 2016. The 2017 Miss
Kentucky Soccer honoree scored both goals in the second half and assisted on
Gorham’s tally midway through the first frame.
Kozovic and Gorham each notched their first goals of the season, and Backes tallied
her first point of the year as well with an assist on Gorham’s strike. As a team,
WKU was dominant offensively, outshooting Evansville 16-5 and holding the Purple
Aces to just two shots on goal, both of which came in the final five minutes of
In goal, Bailee Witt played the full 90 minutes and made one save while giving up
only Jayme-Lee Hunter’s late goal for Evansville. Michaela Till and Julie Rabe each
played a half for the Purple Aces with both surrendering a pair of goals apiece.
WKU attacked early and often against the Purple Aces, with Barnett testing Till and
forcing the Evansville keeper into action just 54 seconds into the match. Kozovic
found the breakthrough for the Lady Toppers and netted the squad’s first goal of the
season and second of her career at the 7:56 mark. The junior dribbled around her
defender into the box and fired into the back of the net for the early 1-0 lead.
The Lady Topper attack continued to threaten throughout much of the first half, as
Megan Morris put a shot on goal while Backes and Barnett each had good chances
turned away by defender as WKU sought to double its lead.
Gorham came through with the insurance goal with 29:15 showing on the clock, pushing
WKU’s lead over the Purple Aces to 2-0. Set up by feeds from Backes and Barnett, the
redshirt senior tallied her first regular season goal since Nov. 2, 2016, after
turning in a strong preseason performance. That 2-0 scoreline following Gorham’s
strike would hold through the halftime break.
Early in the second half, WKU picked up right where it left off in the first 45
minutes, netting a pair of goals in the first 12 minutes of the frame. The first, at
the 54:38 mark, came after the ball fell at Barnett’s feet inside the box and she
buried the shot past Evansville’s Rabe for the first collegiate goal of her career.
Just over three minutes later, the freshman struck again on an unassisted solo run.
Gathering the ball just outside the box, the Rockport, Ind., native dribbled through
the Purple Aces’ defense and converted the chance to push the WKU lead to 4-0 with
just over 30 minutes remaining.
Despite a late goal from Hunter for Evansville, the Purple Aces were unable to mount
a comeback against the strong Lady Topper attack as WKU held strong to claim the 4-1
With Thursday’s mid-week tilt in the books, WKU will head back home for its first
match of the regular season at the WKU Soccer Complex on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.
against Miami (Ohio). All WKU Soccer home matches this season will feature free
admission for all fans. The Lady Toppers will be squaring off with the RedHawks for
the third time in four seasons and will be seeking their first victory in the
series. In the most recent matchup, Miami (Ohio) claimed a 3-2 double overtime win
over WKU on Aug. 26, 2016.