Mobile, Ala. — After a stellar regular season earned the Western Kentucky University women's soccer team several Sun Belt Conference awards and the tournament's top seed for the first time, the Lady Toppers continued their success into the postseason Wednesday evening, defeating South Alabama 3-0 in the first round of the conference tournament.
With the win, this year's Lady Toppers (14-2-3) tied the school record for most wins in a season, which was set in the team's inaugural campaign of 2001.
"This was a good match between two good Sun Belt schools," said head coach Jason Neidell, who earned the conference's Coach of the Year honors on Tuesday. "We were fortunate to finish the chances we had."
The Lady Toppers, who saw five players garner all-confernce honors, wasted no time getting on the board first, as Amanda Buechel found the foot of Mallory Outerbridge in the seventh minute for her eighth goal of the season. The goal, which turned out to be the match-winner, was Outerbridge's fifth match-winning goal of the year, breaking the previous record set by three other Lady Toppers, most recently Betsy Duncan in 2004. The Regina, Saskatchewan native, who was named a second-team All-Conference performer, is now tied with Kristin Cocchiarella for the team lead in goals.
Early in the second half, WKU added to their lead when Kellie Walker scored off an assist by Cocchiarella to make it a 2-0 advantage in the 55th minute. The goal was Walker's fifth of the season, matching her season total from last year.
Danielle Hogue put the game away in the 63rd minute with an unassisted goal from 14 yards out, her sixth of the season.
First-team All-Sun Belt selection Meredith Goodson made six saves between the pipes to notch her fifth shutout of the year. The Newnan, Georgia native also tied the school record for most wins in a season (14), which was set by Amy Uhlman in 2001.
For the Lady Topper defense, who rank first in the Sun Belt in goals allowed, it was their ninth shutout of the 2007 campaign.
Although the Lady Jaguars outshot WKU 12-8, the Lady Toppers enjoyed a 7-6 advantage in shots on goal for the evening.
WKU, who is now 5-2 all-time in first round Sun Belt tournament matches, will take on North Texas at 7 p.m. (CST) Thursday evening in the semifinal round. The Lady Toppers narrowly defeated the Mean Green 1-0 in overtime twelve days ago when the teams met in Bowling Green.
The winner will advance to Saturday's championship match against the winner of the other semifinal, which will be played between Denver and Arkansas-Little Rock at 4 p.m. (CST) on Thursday.