WKU Soccer clinches C-USA East Division Title with goal in 90th minute
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -Western Kentucky Soccer and Charlotte went scoreless for the first 89:20, but the Lady Toppers scored when it mattered, winning 1-0 and clinching the Conference East Division regular-season title and securing the No. 1 seed in the East in next week’s C-USA Championship in Houston.
After several close opportunities, it was only right that Katie Erwin notched the game-winner. WKU was awarded a free kick with 51 seconds left in the match and Lyric Schmidt took the kick. She passed it out to Avery Jacobsen who returned right back to Schmidt. Schmidt launched the ball into the box and Erwin put her head on it and sent it past the Charlotte goalkeeper with 40 seconds left.
“We set up a play, the play didn’t work and the players improvised and it worked out ok,” said head coach Jason Neidell. “All season long Katie Erwin’s job on free kicks is to put herself in position to challenge the goalkeeper. When the play broke down, that’s exactly what she did. She was in the right place in the right time.”
The goal came after a stalemate between the two teams for the majority of the match. WKU was the more aggressive team on offense, getting off 18 shots compared to the 49ers’ six, including a 9-2 shots on goal differential. Erwin and Brina Micheels led the Lady Toppers with four shots each.
“We wanted to stick together down to the last second and knowing we had to get a win out of this made it even more special that everyone on this team kept playing until the very end,” said Erwin.
It was Erwin’s third goal of the season and her first match-winner. It was Schmidt’s first assist of the season.
The 1-0 shutout was goalkeeper Ashley Kobylinski’s fourth clean sheet of the season. She had a two-save effort and several other breakups throughout the match.
“This has been our team’s goal the whole time, is to set a legacy for ourselves,” said Erwin on the regular-season title. “We have another week of play to complete that legacy.”
The championship is WKU’s first regular-season title since the 2013 season and the Lady Toppers’ first in C-USA.
“We’ve been talking about winning championships for the last couple of years,” said Neidell. “We just have a group that is committed to the process. In particular, I love it for our senior captain Avery Jacobsen. She’s been through the highs and the lows of this program. To win a conference championship for her was particularly meaningful.”
The Lady Toppers’ opponent in next week’s C-USA Championship has yet to be determined. The final seeding depends on the result of Louisiana Tech and UAB which will be played at 8 a.m. on Saturday. The league will then release the full bracket following the match.
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