Impressive season ends in penalty kicks

The South Dakota State women’s soccer team ended its season with a loss Friday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Jacks fell to Nebraska 3-0 on penalty kicks after a scoreless draw in regulation and overtime periods. 

The Jacks found themselves in their third consecutive shootout, but after claiming the previous two games in the Summit League Tournament, they saw their luck run out as Nebraska advanced in the tournament.

“Anytime you have to go to penalty kicks the third time in a row it’s the adage of ‘live by the sword, die by the sword,’ where at some point you fear you’re going to run out of luck, and that’s what happened to us,” said Head Coach Lang Wedemeyer.

Six Jackrabbits were selected to the All-Summit League Women’s Soccer teams, including three First Team honorees. 

Poole, Larson and junior forward Nicole Hatcher were named to the First Team while senior midfielder Madison Yueill was a Second Team pick. Smither and freshman defender Alexa Hepner earned spots on the All-Freshman team.

“It’s great to have these individuals recognized by the conference for their quality play this season,” Wedemeyer said.

Larson was picked as Summit League Defensive Player of the Week in September and played more than 1,400 minutes in the regular season on the backline that posted eight shutouts. 

Poole started all 18 regular season games for the Jacks and ended the season with six goals. She is now a three-time All-Summit League First Team selection during her career.

Hatcher finished the season with 10 assists, ranking first in the conference and third all-time in the SDSU single-season record book.

Yueill and Hepner both started all 18 games of the regular season. Yueill finished the year with four goals and two assists. Hepner played more minutes than any other player on the SDSU roster, logging 1,970 total minutes and setting a new SDSU single-season record for minutes played. 

Smither finished first in the Summit League in save percentage with .911, goals-against with 4 and goals-against average with 0.34 — an SDSU single-season record.

Wedemeyer said he’s proud of his team’s efforts throughout the whole season and the chemistry they showed both on and off the field. 

“I thought they were just wonderful in how they worked together and supported each other,” Wedemeyer said. “The effort in training day after day, even by players that weren’t necessarily guaranteed playing time on the weekend, was great and at a very high level of team-first mentality. I’m just very proud of the players and all the great efforts that they put forth.”

Despite Friday’s loss, the Jackrabbits still have a lot to celebrate from this season.

The team made Summit League history after claiming its third consecutive Summit League Tournament Championship Title on Nov. 5. SDSU defeated Denver 4-2 on penalty kicks in the semifinals and advanced to the championship where they took down Oral Roberts in penalty kicks, 3-2, and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament for the third year in a row.

The Jacks landed four players on the All-Summit Tournament team, including redshirt freshman goalkeeper Maggie Smither, sophomore defender Kyli Nelson, junior midfielder Tori Poole and senior defender Lindsee Larson. Smither was also named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.