Barnett named C-USA Player of the Year; four other Lady Toppers earn All-Conference Honors

WKU Soccer's Ambere Barnett tabbed preseason All-Conference USA.
WKU Soccer's Ambere Barnett tabbed preseason All-Conference USA.(WKU Athletics)
Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 11:14 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -Western Kentucky Soccer midfielder Ambere Barnett has been named the Conference USA Player of the Year and earned Midfielder of the Year honors. Barnett was joined on the All-Conference First Team by defender Avery Jacobsen. Lyric Schmidt was named to the Second Team and Brina Micheels and Ellie Belcher were tabbed All-Freshmen.

Barnett is top 50 nationally in four statistical categories: 0.654 shot accuracy (27th), 0.67 goals per game (37th), 1.56 points per game (44th), and 1.89 shots on goal per game (44th). All of those stats also put her in at least the top two in C-USA also.

The Rockport, Indiana native leads the team with six goals on the season and a total of 14 points. She scored a goal in each of her first three matches of the season, including two against FIU on March 4. Five of her six goals have come in conference play and she notched the game-winner against Middle Tennessee and FIU.

In her career on The Hill, the junior has scored 18 goals which is tied for the ninth-most in program history. Her 16 assists are tied for the fourth-most and her 52 points are seventh in the record book.

Barnett is the first Lady Topper to have earned conference Player of the Year honors since Kellie Walker was named the Sun Belt Player of the Year in 2009. Barnett is also now a three-time All-C-USA First Team selection after earning the honor in each of her first two seasons.

Jacobsen earned First Team honors alongside Barnett and Schmidt was named to the Second Team. Jacobsen and Schmidt have been a crucial part of the WKU backline acting as the spine or the middle column of that line. Outside of the season-opening loss to North Alabama, the Lady Toppers have only given up seven goals in nine games and have shut out four teams. The backline is also allowing only 8.2 shots per game and only 3.5 shots on goal per game. The defense has also limited opponents to only 21 total corner kicks on the season.

Jacobsen had a stellar match against Middle Tennessee earlier in the season, scoring her first career goal and assisting on the game-winner. The Las Vegas, Nevada has two assists on the season, notching the other against Southern Illinois. Jacobsen is the only Lady Topper to have played in every minute of the 2021 season.

Schmidt set up one of the most important goals of the season, notching an assist on Katie Erwin’s game-winning goal in the 90th minute against Charlotte to clinch the C-USA East Division title. Schmidt took a free kick for the Lady Toppers with 51 seconds and after the set-piece didn’t play out, rocketed a pass into the box where Erwin waited to head it into the back of the net.

Belcher and Micheels have both enjoyed debut seasons on The Hill. Belcher is a starting member of that WKU defense that has shut out four teams and held opponents to 11 goals on the season. The Bowling Green native also scored a goal in her first official match as a Lady Topper and then scored again against Marshall.

Micheels is tied for the team’s lead in assists with three on the season. The Plattsburgh, New York native scored the match-winner against Centre on a corner kick that she bent into the goal. Micheels is the primary corner taker for the Lady Toppers, an area the team has thrived.

WKU’s five student-athletes on all-conference teams this season is the most since the 2016 season when the Lady Toppers placed five players on teams.

The Lady Toppers take on UAB in the first round of the C-USA tournament on Tuesday at 11 a.m. in Houston.

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