The South Dakota State soccer team saw their season come to a close last Friday in Minneapolis, Minn. as they fell to the Minnesota Golden Gophers 5-0 in the first round of the NCAA College Cup Tournament.
“Obviously, disappointed with the result and the fact that our season came to an end. Really impressed with the way Minnesota played,” SDSU Assistant Coach Brock Thompson said. “I thought we survived the first half, but weren’t really able to regroup coming out in the second half and it kind of snowballed from there.”
Minnesota scored the first goal off a deflection in the box in the 18th minute. Gopher Taylor Stainbrook made the goal for Minnesota, her third of the season.
Freshman Kyli Nelson made the lone shot on goal for the Jackrabbits in the first half.
Junior Nicole Inskeep held the score at 1-0 after the first half with five close saves for SDSU.
South Dakota State lost momentum early in the second half after an own goal, moving the score to 2-0 Gophers. Confusion in the box led to an SDSU mishap giving Minnesota energy to score two more goals only minutes later.
The third goal scored by the Golden Gophers came from Josee Stiever, assisted by Stainbrook in the 53rd minute of play.
Minnesota rallied, moving the score to 4-0 in the 59th minute. The goal came from Stainbrook, notching her second of the game and fourth of the season.
With only five minutes left on the clock, Minnesota netted another goal, moving the score to 5-0. The goal was made by Julianna Gernes, her second of the season.
Senior Dani Patterson made the closest goal attempt late in the second half sending the ball to the upper left hand corner of the goal which was tipped away by Gopher goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs.
SDSU trailed overall in shots taking only six shots to Minnesota’s 23.
Nine seniors played their final game as Jackrabbits, and according to Thompson, the postgame locker room was all about them.
“There was a lot of emotion surrounding the nine seniors that had played their final game. For them to lead us to the national tournament two years in a row is pretty special, so that’s where most of the emotions were geared toward,” Thompson said. “It was a pretty emotional scene, as you would expect. Not so much about a missed opportunity, but in celebration of the young ladies that are graduating.”
The Jackrabbits closed the season with a 12-6-3 record, a third Summit League Championship title and a third NCAA Tournament appearance for the books.
After two straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament, the pressure is on to find a way out of the first round, something the Jacks haven’t accomplished since 2008. Though it was a tough loss, all the returning players should be able to take valuable lessons from this game and hopefully transform that into postseason wins next season.
“I think we learned that we’ve got to be able to become a little bit better. We learned that we’ve got to be able to absorb pressure a little bit better individually. We’ve got to be able to defend with greater intensity and collectiveness,” Thompson said. “As a coaching staff and as a program we’re motivated. We’re a little ways off but we’re not too far off and that in itself is motivating.”