BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - Looking to continue a five-game unbeaten streak, Western Kentucky University (11-4-2, 6-1-2) travels to Murfressboro, Tenn. to face Middle Tennessee (13-4-0, 8-1-0) in the regular season finale for both squads. First touch is set for 7:00pm on Friday.
With a win, WKU can finish either third or fourth in the Sun Belt Conference standings, depending on the outcome of Friday's other contests around the league. A loss would give WKU the fourth seed in next week's conference tournament.
Senior Amanda Buechel (Cincinnati, Ohio) and freshman Lauren Moats (Nixa, Mo.) have led a balanced WKU attack in conference play with five goals each. Overall, 13 different players have had a hand in scoring for WKU in Sun Belt Conference play, including nine different goal scorers.
Junior Ali Stahlke (Naperville, Ill.) leads a WKU defense, alongside Stephanie Lindsey (Indianapolis, Ind.) and Torrie Lange (Florence, Ky.) that has allowed just four goals in conference play and has a 0.42 GAA average with freshman Nikki Hall (Cincinnati, Ohio) between the pipes.
Earlier this week, Stahlke earned Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors. It was the first time WKU has had three selections in a single season or that multiple players have claimed the award in the same season. Senior Amanda Buechel (Cincinnati, Ohio) won the honor on two occasions earlier this season. The selection marked the league leading 15th Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week honor for WKU student-athletes this fall. She was also recognized by CollegeSoccer360.com as a member of the CS360 Primetime Performers Weekly Honor Roll.
Stahlke contributed on both ends of the field for the Lady Toppers in Sunday's 2-0 win over North Texas. WKU took a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute when Stahlke launched a free kick from around 35 yards out over the outstretched arm of North Texas keeper Jackie Kerestine. It was the second straight game that the Naperville native and WKU defender had found the back of the goal off a set piece. It was her third goal of the season and fifth in her WKU career.
Stahlke's presence on the WKU backline has been a key reason that WKU has fielded one of the top defenses in the Sun Belt Conference. WKU has allowed just four goals in conference play this season. WKU is the only team in the Sun Belt Conference to shutout the Mean Green this season and only the third overall this season. WKU also shutout the Mean Green in last year's conference tournament semifinal game, winning in penalty kicks. It marked the league leading eighth shutout of the season for the Lady Toppers, who posted their 20th shutout in the last two years.
WKU and Middle Tennessee own a 4-4-5 all-time record in the series. WKU has won two straight and are unbeaten in their last three outings with the Blue Raiders. WKU is 3-1-3 against MTSU in its last seven games with the Blue Raiders.
The game at Middle Tennessee marks the final game for the Lady Toppers before heading to Mobile, Ala. for the 2012 Sun Belt Conference Tournament, hosted by South Alabama. Opening round games are set for Oct. 31.
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