BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Western Kentucky University head soccer coach Jason Neidell announced the Lady Toppers' 2012 schedule on Thursday. WKU will play 18 matches in 2012 including home matches against Southeastern Conference opponents Tennessee and Vanderbilt.
"Once again this year, we have a very challenging non-conference schedule that should prepare us well for the Sun Belt Conference race and give us an opportunity to showcase our program on a national scale", said Neidell on the 2012 slate for the Lady Toppers.
The Lady Toppers will play a pair of preseason exhibition games prior to the start of the 2012 season. WKU will travel to Tennessee-Martin for a game on Friday, August 10 at 7 p.m. Tennessee-Martin reached the NCAA Tournament in 2011 for the first time in program history after winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament. On Sunday, August 12, the Lady Toppers will take on Memphis for a 1 p.m. game. WKU hosted the Tigers at the WKU Soccer Complex last season when Memphis was #20 in the country.
WKU will open the regular season at home on Friday, August 17, hosting Evansville at 6 p.m. That following Sunday, the Lady Toppers host the Lady Vols of Tennessee for a 1 p.m. game at the WKU Soccer Complex. Tennessee played in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, compiling a record of 15-7. WKU then takes to the road for the next two weekends, playing in a pair of tournaments. On August 24-26, the Lady Toppers will play in the Ball State Tournament. WKU will play Xavier on Friday, August 24 at 3 p.m. and Northern Kentucky on Sunday, August 26 at 12 p.m.
The Lady Toppers will play in their second tournament Labor Day Weekend, participating in Minnesota's tournament September 1-3 in St. Paul. WKU will play Bowling Green State on Saturday, September 1 at 1 p.m., followed by a meeting with the host Golden Gophers on Monday, September 3 at 1 p.m. The Lady Toppers return home for a four-match homestand beginning on Sunday, September 9 with a 1 p.m. game against Vanderbilt. On Saturday, September 15, WKU will host Belmont for a 6 p.m. game at the WKU Soccer Complex. Last season the Lady Toppers scored a season-high four goals in a 4-0 win over the Bruins.
WKU opens Sun Belt Conference play on Friday, September 21 at the WKU Soccer Complex against Arkansas State, followed by a 1 p.m. match on Sunday, September 23 against UALR to wrap up the homestand. The Lady Toppers then go on the road for four straight games. The road swing begins in Florida on September 28 as WKU takes on Florida Atlantic. On September 30, the Lady Toppers travel to Miami for their last regular season showdown with current Sun Belt champions FIU. The Panthers will join Conference USA in July of 2013. The two teams met in the 2011 Sun Belt Soccer Championship Game.
The next week, WKU travels to Louisiana for games at Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday, October 5 and at ULM on Sunday, October 7. The Lady Toppers return to Bowling Green on Friday, October 12 for a 6 p.m. game against South Alabama. On the 14th, WKU will take on Troy at 1 p.m. The Lady Toppers wrap up the home slate on Sunday, October 21 with a 1 p.m. game against North Texas. WKU defeated the Mean Green on penalty kicks in the semifinals of the 2011 Sun Belt Soccer Tournament. Like FIU, North Texas is joining Conference USA in July of 2013.
WKU will wrap up the regular season on Friday, October 26 as it takes on rival Middle Tennessee at 7 p.m. in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Lady Toppers won last season's regular season meeting 2-1 in overtime, then beat the Blue Raiders 1-0 in the Sun Belt Tournament hosted by Middle Tennessee. The 2012 Sun Belt Soccer Championship will be held November 1-4 in Mobile, Alabama hosted by South Alabama.
"With all of the conference realignments, we look forward to competing against a couple of Sun Belt foes for a final time," Neidell remarked. "I know our players have really enjoyed developing these rivalries over the years, and the 2012 season will certainly be bitter-sweet as the conference landscape changes."
WKU finished the 2011 season with a 13-6-3 record, going 7-3-1 in the Sun Belt. The Lady Toppers were 8-2-1 at the WKU Soccer Complex last season.