Soccer set to face Oklahoma State in NCAA Tournament


Carson Herbert, Sports Reporter

By winning last week’s Summit League Tournament, South Dakota State’s women’s soccer team punched its ticket to the NCAA Tournament and will take on Oklahoma State in the first round.

Announced Monday afternoon, the Jackrabbits (15-4-2), who received their fourth automatic bid in the last six years, will travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to take on the third-seeded Cowgirls (15-2-3) Nov. 15.

The Cowgirls lost only one game during the regular season (a 1-0 result at Texas Tech in late September) and finished a campaign in which they claimed the Big 12 regular season title with seven consecutive wins.

In the Big 12 Soccer Championship, Oklahoma State defeated rival Oklahoma 2-1 in the first round but then fell to Kansas 2-1 in double overtime.

Sophomore midfielder Grace Yochum is the biggest threat on offense for the Cowgirls with 11 goals on the season. Senior midfielder Jaci Jones and junior forward Gabriella Coleman each have seven for a team that scored 47 goals to lead the Big 12. Jones is first in the Big 12 and seventh in the nation with 12 assists. 

SDSU coach Brock Thompson said the team has seen Oklahoma State’s style of play before. 

“We play similar as far as how we deploy ourselves from that side of things,” he said. “Oklahoma State will be very similar to many of the Power 5 schools from the midwest that we’ve played, whether it’s Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Kansas State, Iowa State. Very similar from that standpoint. Really good on the flank. Fairly dynamic out wide.”

OSU has reached the NCAA Tournament 11 times in the last 14 years.

Two Summit League schools in Omaha and Oral Roberts both fell to the Cowgirls in the regular season, but the Jacks and Cowgirls have never met on the soccer field.

The Summit League Offensive Player of the Year, senior forward Leah Manuleleua, has scored 11 goals, while the league’s Freshman of the Year, forward Maya Hansen, has reached the net seven times. Ten different Jacks have scored a goal this season. 

Senior goalkeeper Maggie Smither, who won the Summit League Goalkeeper of the Year, continues to lock down the goal with 93 saves and 14 shutouts this season. 

In five appearances, the Jacks are 1-4 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. Their lone win came in 2008 against Colorado.

Thompson said the focus is for the team to be themselves.

“Like anything else, we go into each game figuring 80% is about us, and 20% is about learning a little bit about what they are going to do,” Thompson said. “We’d be really foolish to change that recipe now.”

Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. Friday at Neal Patterson Stadium in Stillwater.

The winner of the first-round game will play either Santa Clara University or the University of California.