BOWLING GREEN, Ky.- With the Belmont women's soccer team looking for its first victory against Western Kentucky on Thursday, the Lady Toppers kept its undefeated mark against the Bruins alive with a 5-0 victory at the WKU Soccer Complex.
The Lady Toppers outshot the Bruins 18-12, collecting 10 shots on goal while shooting .277 for the match.
"I think (WKU head coach) Jason (Neidell) does a phenomenal job and always has of organizing his team. That's why we play them all the time," head coach Heather Henson said. "They're a solid, well-coached team on the attacking side. Their attacking style always creates opportunities for us to have to learn and recognize and adjust. It gives us learning opportunities."
Western Kentucky hit the ground running, coming up with two quick goals in the first 10 minutes. Ansley Cate put the Lady Toppers on the board with two goals, scoring off assists from Ambere Barnett and Avery Jacobsen in the third and ninth minutes of the game.
Katie Erwin would score the third goal for the Lady Toppers in the 33rd minute of the first half, scoring off an assist from Olivia Stanley. In the second half, Barnett followed up with her own score three minutes in the half to give the Lady Toppers a four-goal lead. Chelsea Moore capped off WKU's offense with an unassisted goal in the 79th minute that gave the Lady Toppers a five-goal lead.
"I think moving forward, it's going to be a really big test for our character and I think we're up for the challenge," senior MacKenzie Firek said. "Obviously the result tonight was not what we wanted and moving forward, now we know what needs to happen to get the results we want. Sometimes you have to get kicked a little bit to get back up and realize where you are."
Lily Herman came up with five saves and played the full 90 minutes on Thursday, marking the fifth game in a row where she has collected four or more saves dating back to Oct. 12, 2018. Freshmen Claire Fallon and Avery Nowak were tabbed into the starting 11 on Thursday, marking the second time in the last three years where a first-year player was in the starting lineup for the opening match.
Four Belmont newcomers came off the bench against Western Kentucky, with newcomers totaling over 200 minutes of play.
"I think playing against a Conference-USA team gave them an opportunity to see a different level of play," Henson said. "It gave them opportunities to have to recognize and deal with the college speed of play. There were some good points. There were points in there where we saw bright lights, but there were also nerves coming in and playing your first regular season game as a starter or coming off the bench.
"Again, I see that as a learning opportunity that they have and now they have minutes and a game under their belts."
Belmont continues its non-conference slate with the Battle of the Boulevard at Lipscomb on Sunday at 5 p.m.