SDSU seals Summit’s top seed

Garrett Dorneman

The home rivalry win sets up SDSU with the number one seed heading to the tourney.   

The SDSU soccer team has reached the peak.

With their 3-1 win over rival NDSU Saturday night, the Jacks claimed the Summit League regular season championship. The Jackrabbits finished the season 12-5-2 overall and 8-0-1 in league play and secured the No. 1 seed in the four-team Summit League tournament set to begin on Friday in Rochester, Mich.

The game’s first half was a physical, defensive struggle with the Jackrabbits managing just one shot for the entire half to eight with five on goal for the Bison (14-3-2, 7-1-1). However, the Jacks took full advantage of that one shot as senior Kelsey Ferguson netted the goal in the 21st minute after Megan Kingston split two defenders and hooked up with an unmarked Ferguson on a cross pass to put the Jacks up 1-0.

“They put a lot of pressure on us and it took us a little bit of time to get adjusted to that through the first half,” head coach Lang Wedemeyer said. “I felt we played better soccer in the second [half] and created some dangerous scoring chances.”

The offense would indeed open up significantly in the second half for the Jacks; launching 12 shots with four on goal. Ferguson would cap a fantastic night with her second goal of the game in the 48th minute following assists from Kingston and Darci Miller to increase the lead to 2-0. The Jacks would gut it out for the next 14 minutes before NDSU’s Anisha Kinnarath cut the deficit in half in the 62nd minute with an unassisted goal following a free kick. The goal snapped SDSU’s streak of eight consecutive games without allowing a goal. The goal also ended senior goalkeeper Kat Donavan’s 823 minute, 23 second shutout minutes streak, which was the 12th longest in NCAA history.

The Jacks would not be deterred by the Bison goal, coming back in the 76th minute with a goal from junior Christa Nyblom who chipped the ball over the NDSU goaltender’s head in the far corner of the net following a cross pass from Abby Jurgens, who received the ball on a deep pass from Stephanie Peterson, to put the game away for the Jacks.

“There was just a lot of determination,” Nyblom said. “There was energy from the beginning of the game, right off the bat, even in the locker room and in this week in general.”

Ferguson, one of 12 seniors being honored at Senior Night, believed that her and her team members had a higher level of commitment to each other than in the past.

“We just believed in each other on a different level, you could see it …. you could feel it,” Ferguson said.

SDSU is the No. 1 seed heading into the Summit League tournament where they will face fourth-seeded Oakland on the Golden Grizzlies’ home field. The two teams fought to a grueling scoreless tie in Brookings back on October 14th. If the Jacks win Friday night, they’ll play the winner of the NDSU/UMKC match for the post-season Summit crown and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament on Sunday at noon.