BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – WKU Soccer will kick off the 19th regular season in program
history on Thursday evening at 7 p.m. as the Lady Toppers welcome regional foe
Belmont to the WKU Soccer Complex in the season opener for both sides.
Thursday’s match, as will all home matches at the Soccer Complex this season, will
feature free admission for all fans. The match will also be streamed live on
Facebook through the Hilltopper Sports Satellite Network with the “Voice of the Lady Toppers”, Brett
Williams, on the call.
Last week, WKU faced a grueling exhibition slate that includes three matches in a
five-day span, but the Lady Toppers emerged with a 2-1 record after claiming wins
over preseason OVC favorite Murray State and Austin Peay. WKU fired five goals
across the three matches, including three in a shortened 80-minute exhibition
against the Govs on Sunday night.
Entering its 19th season opener on Thursday, WKU has put together a 12-6 all-time
record in season openers and has won four of its last five season-opening matches.
Chandler Backes led all Lady Toppers with a pair of goals in the exhibitions,
scoring both against Austin Peay. Ambere Barnett, Ashley Leonard and Ansley Cate
notched the other three strikes, with Barnett, Tally Bishop and Victoria Mayo
serving up assists. WKU scored in the opening 20 minutes against both the Racers and
Govs and had at least 10 shots in all three matches, including 16 against Murray
In goal, Anne-Marie Ulliac played 125 minutes across the three exhibition contests
and did not allow a goal. The redshirt senior missed all but the season opener last
year due to injury but appears to be back at the top of her game entering her final
campaign on The Hill.
Several freshmen made an instant impact in the exhibitions for the Lady Toppers,
including Cate’s goal against Austin Peay. Sydney Ernst and Katie Erwin drew starts
against both Wright State and Austin Peay, while Logan Barber and Lucy Lyon also
started against the Raiders last Friday night.
Belmont dropped both of its preseason exhibition contests and was unable to find the
back of the net in either, dropping a 3-0 decision against Vanderbilt on Aug. 11
before falling 1-0 to Chattanooga last Friday. The Bruins finished 6-8-3 in 2018 and
will be facing WKU for the first time since 2016; the Lady Toppers own a
near-perfect 4-0-1 all-time record in the series and have outscored Belmont 11-1
across those five matches.
Julie Garst, Belmont’s lone player to score double-digit points a season ago with 16
(seven goals, two assists), returns for the Bruins, as does Kameron Ziesig, the
team’s second-leading scorer with a goal and two assists in 2018. Last year, Belmont
struggled to find the back of the net, scoring only 18 goals in 17 matches and being
shut out five times.
Lily Herman returns between the posts for the Bruins after playing all but 225
minutes last season, finishing with a goals against average of 1.82 with 70 saves
and 28 goals allowed. Herman saw 1,383 minutes of action and posted four shutout
wins and will be entering her senior campaign for Belmont.
Following Thursday’s game, WKU will go on the road for the first time this season
for a marquee non-conference match at in-state SEC foe Kentucky on Sunday afternoon
at 1 p.m. (CT). That matchup will be the first meeting between the Lady Toppers and
Wildcats since 2009, and WKU will be seeking its first victory in the series despite
earning draws in the last two times out against Kentucky. Sunday’s match will be
carried live on the SEC Network+ and ESPN3.