Soccer earns rematch in Summit League Final

Jakob King, Sports Reporter

By way of a 1-0 semifinal win over Oral Roberts Thursday night, the South Dakota State women’s soccer team clinched a berth in Saturday’s Summit League Final for the first time since 2016.

The game went into halftime a scoreless tie, but despite not putting the ball in the net, the Jackrabbits controlled the opening 45 minutes. They spent 65% of the first half on the attack and outshot ORU 4-2.

That theme continued early in the second half with a flurry of SDSU shot attempts. They outshot the Golden Eagles 6-0 in the first 15 minutes after halftime, including an open shot that went off the post and a diving save by Golden Eagle goalkeeper Allison Austin to keep the game scoreless.

The Jacks’ offense finally found a goal on their eighth shot of the second half.

In the 70th minute, sophomore forward Cece Limongi took a pass from freshman forward Maya Hansen and scored her first goal of the season and what would end up as the deciding goal of the game.

“You’ve got to give credit to Cece,” said SDSU coach Brock Thompson. “She hasn’t been in the last couple games, and for her to have the confidence to make that play at the end is a testament to her and her ability as a player. Certainly proud of her for that moment, and it was obviously a big moment for us.”

After the SDSU score, ORU finally started creating scoring chances. Drishana Pillay put a shot on goal that nearly found the inside of the post but was saved by SDSU goalkeeper Maggie Smither. The resulting corner kick sailed out of play.

The Jacks’ defense put the game away in the final minutes.

With just under seven minutes remaining, ORU attempted its third and final corner kick of the second half, but it was defended by Smither, who went up in the air to secure the ball and prevent a Golden Eagle shot attempt. ORU’s final shot attempt of the game was their best chance to tie the game, but what appeared to be an open goal was covered by the SDSU defense, who cleared the ball and watched the final seconds tick away.

“Our team didn’t panic,” Thompson said. “I thought we were able to get on the ball a little bit more in the second half and create a few chances. Certainly, the goal that Cece scored was the one that we needed. I’m just proud of our team and proud of the opportunity to play on Saturday.”

Overall, SDSU outshot ORU 15-4, and Smither saved all three ORU shots on goal.

The Jacks will host the University of Denver at noon Saturday in the Summit League Final at the Fishback Soccer Park, with the winner guaranteed a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

The Pioneers were the only team to defeat the Jacks in the Summit League regular season, a 2-1 result Oct. 31 in Denver.