BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – Freshman Ashley Leonard scored her first collegiate goal in
style on Sunday afternoon, tallying the golden goal in the first overtime period as
WKU claimed a 1-0 victory over UT Martin in its 2017 home opener at the WKU Soccer
Despite playing just four minutes on the afternoon, the Troy, Mich., native
capitalized on a long shot from outside the box, turning to her right and firing a
high-arcing lob that sneaked under the crossbar for the decisive goal. Leonard is
the second true freshman to score for the Lady Toppers in the team’s first four
matches this season, joining Tally Bishop who found the back of the net in the
opener at Lipscomb.
With the victory, WKU moves to 14-3 all-time in home openers in program history and
has won its first match at the WKU Soccer Complex in each of the last four seasons.
WKU applied offensive pressure for long periods of the match and outshot the
Skyhawks 20-4, including 9-3 in chances on goal, on the afternoon. Half of WKU’s
chances shots came in the second half as the Lady Toppers sought the go-ahead goal
but were unable to score the victory in regulation.
Sarah Gorham led all players with four shots on the afternoon and put three of her
chances on target; the redshirt junior had an opportunity to put WKU in front on a
penalty kick in the 64th minute, but her shot from the spot pinged off the left post
and back into play, where the Skyhawks were able to clear away the threat.
Hannah Chua (3), Bishop (3), Chandler Backes (2) and Shayna Dheel (2) each
registered multiple shots on the afternoon as well as WKU’s 20 attempts were a
season-best mark. In goal, Allison Leone played the full 94 minutes and earned her
second solo shutout of the season, stymying the Skyhawks with a trio of saves on the
For UT Martin, Erica Myers spent the full match between the posts and made eight
saves, but surrendered Leonard’s golden goal to close the match.
Over the first 25 minutes of play, the Lady Toppers pressured UT Martin’s defense
with four shots and a corner kick opportunity from Aleksandra Kozovic in the 12th
minute. Chua and Gorham each had chances 10 minutes later, but Chua pulled her shot
just to the left of the goal while Gorham’s effort was stopped by Myers to maintain
the early deadlock.
A flurry of action in the box in the 33rd minute nearly gave WKU a 1-0 advantage.
Bishop’s initial strong shot was parried away but fell to the feet of Backes, whose
attempt to score off the rebound was blocked away by a UT Martin defender. Backes
again corralled her own shot for a second try, but missed the lower left corner of
the goal by inches.
WKU’s best chance at victory in regulation came on Gorham’s penalty kick at the
63:33 mark. Bishop was pulled down in the box and the referee called for the foul,
setting up the redshirt junior with the first penalty kick chance of her career.
Gorham correctly pulled the shot to the left as Myers dove to her right, but the
chance struck the left post and ricocheted back into play to be cleared away.
The Lady Toppers had a final chance in the last minute of regulation as Megan Morris
broke free down the left side, creating a one-on-one opportunity against the keeper
inside the box. Myers charged out just as Morris fired, barely containing the strong
shot and sending the match into overtime to set up Leonard’s heroics.
WKU will be off the pitch for a week before returning to the confines of the WKU
Soccer Complex for its next match on Sunday, Sept. 3, at 6 p.m. against Evansville.
All of WKU’s home matches this season will feature free admission for all fans, and
the Evansville match will double as Youth Soccer Day, encouraging younger players to
come out and experience the atmosphere of a collegiate match.