Soccer set to face USD to start Summit slate


Zoey Schentzel

Midfielder Laney Murdzek dribbles the ball in the Jackrabbits’ 2-0 win over Kansas State Sunday afternoon at the Fishback Soccer Park in Brookings. Murdzek had the assist on the second goal of the game as she found Maya Hansen in the 50th minute.

Tristen Hanna, Sports Reporter

Following two shutout wins to close out non-conference play, the South Dakota State soccer team begins its Summit League schedule Saturday against South Dakota at Fishback Soccer Park.

Saturday’s game will mark the 17th all-time matchup between the Jackrabbits and Coyotes, with SDSU leading the all-time series 8-6-2. The last time these two teams met was late last season in Vermillion. In that game, the Coyotes walked away with a 2-1 win, which snapped SDSU’s 10-game winning streak.

This season, the Jackrabbits hope to continue their unbeaten season at home against a struggling Coyotes team.

“I think we took a step forward as a team,” junior midfielder, Katherine Jones, said. “We really got to improve on some little areas that we wanted to improve on heading into conference play.”

So far, the Coyotes have been 1-5-3 and are coming off consecutive ties against Drake and Iowa State. In their Sept. 8 game against Drake at home, the Coyotes managed to tie the game early in the second half but could never pull away, and they settled for a 2-2 tie.

They then traveled to Aimes, Iowa to take on Iowa State. In that game, neither the Coyotes nor the Cyclones could score, and the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Prior to those two games, the Coyotes were shut out in back-to-back games, a 0-2 loss to Southern Utah (Sept. 2), then a 0-5 loss to Utah Tech (Sept. 4).

Shaylee Gailus is USD’s leading scorer with three goals in seven starts this season and has one assist. Taylor Cotter and Ashby Johnston each lead the team in assists with two each. Goalkeeper Caroline Lewis has 34 saves this season.

As a team, the Coyotes have allowed more goals (17) than they’ve scored (14). After their game against the Jackrabbits in Brookings, USD is back at home next weekend against Omaha and Denver.

The Jackrabbits are 6-0-3 this season and concluded their non-conference schedule with impressive shutout home wins against Air Force and Kansas State. With those two wins, the Jackrabbits extended their home winning streak to 37 games.

In their first game against Air Force Sept. 15, the Jackrabbits struck early, with Jones scoring her first goal of the season in the seventh minute. SDSU held on to that lead throughout the final 83 minutes of the game and walked away with a 1-0 win.

For her performance against Air Force, Jones was named Summit League offensive player of the week. “Katherine has been good for a number of games, and it’s great to see her get rewarded this week,” coach Brock Thompson said.

Despite Air Force having the edge in shots (17-8), they never managed to score in the game, thanks to goalkeepers Jocelyn Tanner and Hailee Fischer. Tanner recorded three saves in the first half before Fischer took over in the second half and registered a single-game career-high six saves.

Following their win against Air Force, the Jackrabbits then posted their second-straight shutout and fifth overall this season against Kansas State.

Fischer kicked things off for the Jackrabbits with a spectacular save to keep the Wildcats from scoring. After a scoreless first half, the Jacks held an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks and a 6-3 edge in shots.

Early in the second half, SDSU’s leading scorer Maya Hansen scored her fifth goal of the season, assisted by her teammate Laney Murdzek. 

Fifteen minutes after Hansen scored, Cece Limongi received a deep pass from  Jones. Limongi was matched up with two wildcats, one fell, which left her and the goalkeeper one-on-one. Limongi won the battle to put the Jacks up 2-0.

The Jackrabbits concluded the game with a 14-1 margin in corner kicks and 16-8 in shots.

“Against Kansas State, I thought it was the most complete performance we played up until this time,” Thompson said. “I’m just really proud that we set the bar at that level as we wrapped up non-conference play.”