Soccer off to best start in history

Jake Weber, Sports Reporter (He/Him)

The South Dakota State women’s soccer team began its Summit League schedule this weekend, picking up two wins against Western Illinois and St. Thomas.

SDSU put together great performances to secure their fifth and sixth straight wins as they moved to 11-1 on the season. This is the best start to a season in program history.

On Friday, the Jacks opened their conference schedule with a 2-0 shutout of Western Illinois. Entering the game, the Jackrabbits have posted six shutouts, including three in a row this season.

Maya Hansen opened up the scoring in the 19th minute with her league-leading eighth goal of the season. The Jacks would add to their lead seven minutes later as a Leatherneck penalty gave SDSU a penalty kick. Rachel Preston converted for her first career goal.

Both teams had 10 shots, but SDSU had the edge in possession at 56% to Western Illinois’ 44%.

Goalkeeper Jocelyn Tanner had three saves in the game, helping the Jacks to their fourth straight shutout of the season.

In Sunday’s 3-1 win against St. Thomas, SDSU’s streak of 443 straight minutes without allowing a goal was broken by the Tommies.

SDSU earned another convincing win, which has become routine for them this season. They started the game strong with a 4th-minute goal from Cece Limongi.

After St. Thomas tied it later in the half, Katherine Jones scored her first goal of the season with a beautiful shot from outside the 18-yard box, hitting the top left corner of the goal. This was Jones’ first goal of the season.

“I’ve been trying to take players down the sideline for a while,” Jones said. “So to finally successfully do it and get one in the back of the net for us was really big for my confidence.”

The Jacks entered halftime up 2-1 and continued their strong play with an early goal in the second half from league-leading scorer Hansen, her ninth goal of the year.

“We talk a lot about the first five minutes of each half is a critical time in the game,” Coach Brock Thompson said, “and it’s a credit to our players that they really embrace that.”

The rest of the half played out in the Jacks’ favor as their strong backline outplayed a high-pressing St. Thomas squad.

SDSU’s dominance was also shown in each team’s number of shots, with SDSU taking 21 shots to St. Thomas’ 9.

All season, the Jacks have been lifted with solid performances by underclassmen. Against St. Thomas, notable performances came from the goal scorer Jones, forward Teani Arakawa, and defender Hayley Lindaman.

Looking forward to next week, the Jacks will travel to Kansas City on Friday to face the Roos in a Summit League matchup. SDSU will then travel south to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to take on Oral Roberts.

SDSU and Kansas City hold joint leadership of the Summit League entering Friday’s game, with the Jackrabbits having a better overall record. Both schools are currently 2-0 in conference play.