Top-seeded Jacks falter at tournament

Garrett Dorneman

After a strong start to the season, the women’s soccer team had first loss to Oakland.

The SDSU Jackrabbits soccer team’s season came to a screeching halt Friday with a deflating 1-0 defeat to the hometown Oakland Golden Grizzlies in a semi-final game of the Summit League Tournament in Rochester, Mich. The loss breaks the Jacks’ streak of 10 consecutive non-losing performances and denies them the opportunity to go the NCAA tournament.

The Golden Grizzlies set the pace early in the first half by grabbing the lead in the sixth minute with a goal from Meghan Reynolds, which was off a through-pass into the box from Shannon Doyle. The goal was just the second allowed by First Team All-Summit League goal tender Kat Donavan and the Jacks in their last nine matches, and it would prove to be the deciding point of the game and season for SDSU.

The Golden Grizzlies, a perennial Summit League soccer power, handed the Jacks (12-6-2, 8-0-1 Summit) one of their only blemishes on an otherwise fantastic league record with the loss on Friday and a 0-0 double-overtime tie on Oct. 14.

The Jacks were able to slow the Grizzlies aggressive pace in the second half, but they could not take advantage of their defensive effort. Even though the Jacks had a couple of potential scoring opportunities, they were unable to overcome the Golden Grizzlies’ counterattacks.

Summit League Offensive Player of the Year Kayla Braffet had a golden opportunity to even up the contest late in the game when the ball was loose in the box on a set play. However, an erratic bounce caused Braffet’s shot to sail over the net – ending any hope of a comeback for the Jacks.

“It was a combination of several things, execution and poor luck among them, that led to the outcome,” said Head Coach Lang Wedemeyer.

In the end, the Jacks were just unable to break the Oakland defense. The Golden Grizzlies dominated the Jacks for much of the game — outshooting them 15-8, including four shots on goal to the Jacks’ two.

The Jacks came into the game missing seven players due to suspension, but Coach Wedemeyer insisted on not making any excuses for the team’s play.

“Certainly not having a full roster didn’t help us, but we weren’t going to make any excuses. We fielded a team that was perfectly capable of winning,” said Wedemeyer.

Friday’s game marked the final game for a strong senior class that helped elevate the Jackrabbit soccer program to new heights. The group of seniors, including All-Summit League performers Braffett, Cori Bonte, Donavan, Kelli Herman and Kelsey Ferguson, was the first class in SDSU history to be a part of four teams to qualify for the Summit League Tournament — a group that also shared in earning three regular season League titles and a Tournament title in 2008.

Coach Wedemeyer expressed his admiration for the seniors, not only for their performance on the field, but for their performance in the classroom and community as well.