Before most students were even on campus, the South Dakota State women’s soccer team was busy getting their season underway with games on Friday and Sunday at Fishback Soccer Park in Brookings against Iowa State and Green Bay. The Jacks dropped their opener to ISU 1-0, but topped Green Bay 2-1 to even their record at 1-1.
“We had some of the early season miscues and some disorganization in the Iowa State game, but I thought we played fairly well; we had a lot of possession of the ball,” said SDSU head coach Lang Wedemeyer.
After the Cyclones took an early 1-0 lead off a corner kick, both teams seemed to struggle to create scoring opportunities in the first half. SDSU tallied 10 shots to ISU’s six in the second half, but could not net the evening score.
“We created enough chances to win the game, but not as many as I would have liked,” Wedemeyer said. “I think it may have been a little fatigue or a heavy field that contributed to a slower game, but credit Iowa State, they did everything they needed to get the win.”
The Jacks took a practice day on Saturday before coming back strong against the Green Bay Phoenix on Sunday. Maddi Yueill scored on a penalty kick in the 14th minute, and Nicole Hatcher scored in the 24th to give the Jacks a lead they would not relinquish.
Heidi Hartmann of Green Bay would score in the 27th minute on one of her game-high six shots, of the Phoenix’s 10 total, to make it 2-1. Green Bay would attack late, but SDSU goalkeeper Nicole Inskeep would be credited with three of her five saves in the final eight minutes to preserve the Rabbits’ win.
“We worked on a few things on Saturday and I think that made a difference on Sunday,” Wedemeyer said. “One of the big things we talked about was creating more dangerous opportunities, getting more players in around the goal, and we did. Obviously we scored twice, but I thought we were very dangerous throughout the game in creating those chances, now we just have to find a way to finish them.”
The Jacks are hoping that the match-to-match improvements will continue as they look to build off their 2014 success, when they won the Summit League tournament and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the first time.
“Not to be complacent. Still be hungry, which I think the girls are. They not only want to be able to repeat what we did last year, but go one step further,” Wedemeyer said. “Whether that is being stronger and more consistent in the nonconference portion of the schedule, or making it to the NCAAs again and making it a game or two further into tournament. We have a very mature team. We have a lot of seniors, juniors and even sophomores who played a lot of minutes last year together, so we’re confident that by the end of the season we can get them there.”
SDSU travels to Iowa this weekend, facing Iowa on Friday at 7 p.m. and Drake on Sunday at 1 p.m. The team’s next home game will be Friday, Sept. 18, against Northern Iowa at Fishback Soccer Park at 6 p.m.
“Any time you get to play against a Big Ten opponent, it’s good,” Wedemeyer said. “They’re going to be a good team. They’ll be athletic, strong, and hard and play a very direct type of game that we’ll have to adjust to. But it’s a good challenge for us that prepares us for later in the season.”