Western Kentucky sophomore Ambere Barnett has been named to the All-Conference USA Preseason Women’s Soccer Team as announced by the league office Monday afternoon, and WKU has been selected to finish 10th in the annual preseason poll as voted on by the league’s 14 head coaches.
One of the top freshmen in the league last season, Barnett ended her first season at WKU with seven goals, eight assists and 22 points, tied for the seventh-most points in a single season in program history and the most by any Lady Topper since 2012. The Rockport, Ind., native is WKU’s first preseason all-conference selection since the trio of Chandler Backes, Allison Leone and Nicole Roseland each received preseason accolades prior to the 2017 campaign.
Last season, Barnett became just the second Lady Topper in program history to record multiple five-point matches in a single season, notching five points (two goals, one assist) in an early-season win at Evansville before keying WKU’s 4-3 win over UTEP with a six-point performance, scoring two goals and two assists. In total, Barnett recorded at least one point in eight matches last year and finished with a six-match point streak to close conference play.
WKU returns three of its top five goal scorers from last season. In 2018, the Lady Toppers totaled 32 goals, with 17 of those coming during conference play, WKU’s most since joining the league prior to the 2014 season. Of WKU’s 32 goals scored last season, 23 were scored by players who will be returning in 2019.
The Lady Toppers scored four or more goals in four different matches last season, including a nine-goal outburst against Kentucky Christian for the program’s most in a single match since 2002. Two of those four matches came in back-to-back tilts during C-USA play in victories over FIU and UTEP at the WKU Soccer Complex.
WKU earned draws against 2019 preseason favorite North Texas and No. 3 Rice last year, tying 1-all against the then-No. 24 Mean Green before a 3-all deadlock against the Owls in the same weekend, marking the first time since joining the league that the Lady Toppers had earned a point against each of the perennial C-USA powerhouses in the same campaign.
C-USA will maintain the same format for its postseason tournament this season, with only the top eight teams in the conference standings at the conclusion of the regular season reaching the postseason event.
Barnett and the Lady Toppers will be in action for the first time this season Wednesday at 6 p.m. as the Lady Toppers square off against Murray State in their first preseason exhibition match at the WKU Soccer Complex. WKU will then welcome Wright State (Friday at 6 p.m.) and Austin Peay (Sunday at 6 p.m.) to the Soccer Complex to close out its exhibition slate.
The Lady Toppers will kick off the regular season at 7 p.m. Aug. 22 by hosting regional foe Belmont.