Soccer ready to bounce back before heading on the road

By ANDREW HOLTAN Sports Editor

South Dakota State’s soccer team is ready to begin a winning streak after going 1-1 last weekend. 

They host the Iowa State Cyclones Friday before heading on the road to take on the Creighton Blue Jays in Omaha Sunday.

 The Jacks defeated North Dakota 1-0 Friday before falling to Missouri-Kansas City 1-0 Sunday, with the lone goal coming from a penalty kick.

“I think, for us, Sunday was a little bit different, and it was different from competitive investment, and what we talk about is having a Jackrabbit mentality,” Head Coach Brock Thompson said. “That means that we’re doing whatever it takes to do the best in any situation and I think we’ll respond very well.” 

The Jacks have scored only two goals in the four games they have played this season, one coming from freshman Marisa Schulz and the other from sophomore Leah Manuleleua. As a team, they are averaging nine shots-on-goal each game but have not been able to put the ball in the net.

“It’s concerning, but it’s something that we work on every week and I think it’ll come with the more games we play,” senior forward Nicole Hatcher said.

Sophomore goalie Maggie Smither has started all four games for SDSU. She’s giving up 1.59 goals per game and has 16 saves on 39 shots. She has given up six goals on the season, but four of them came against the University of Utah.

Thompson said it has to do with the way the team has kept the ball out of their own zone.

“I think our team is much better when we can win the ball in the attacking half, and that leads to being able to produce goal-scoring opportunities for us,” Thompson said. “When we have to win the ball deeper in our zone it’s more difficult.”

The Cyclones are 1-3 and have lost their last three games in a row, including a recent 6-1 loss against Minnesota. Last season, ISU defeated SDSU 1-0 in Ames, Iowa.

ISU is led on offense by sophomore forward Merin Mundt who is tied for leading the team in goals and assists with one a piece.

Freshman goalie Dayja Schwichtenberg has been the starter in all four games for the Cyclones. She is giving up 2.21 goals per game and has 15 saves on 63 shots faced. She has a save percentage of 0.625.

ISU has been outscored 9-4 in their four games. They’ve had 50 shot attempts with 18 of those attempts being on goal.

“Iowa State will provide, from an athletic standpoint, some challenges,” Thompson said. “They’ll have the size advantage, they’ll be big, strong and powerful players, so we’ll have to use our soccer sophistication to break them down and be able to play around them.”

Creighton is 0-3 on the season and has been outscored 9-0 in three games. They will take on the University of South Dakota in Vermillion Thursday before facing the Jacks. The Blue Jays defeated SDSU 2-1 last season in Brookings.

“Creighton, every year we play them, it’s a tight game,” Thompson said. “It will come down to which player makes a play in a critical moment to save a game or win a game.”

Although these teams have a combined record of 1-6, Thompson said they are still both good teams and he’s excited for the opportunity to play them. 

The game against the Blue Jays will be the first of four straight road games for the Jacks. They will return home to face Northern Colorado Sept. 17 before starting Summit League play Sept. 29 at Denver.