Jackrabbits advance to championship

The fastest goal in Summit League Tournament history guided the No. 1 seed SDSU soccer team to the championship game as they finished off the No. 4 seed Bison 2-1.

After the Jacks had been shutout on the road against NDSU earlier this year, Tori Poole put them on the board just 41 seconds into the game.

“It was enormous for us,” said head coach Lang Wedemeyer. “We talked right before we went on the field about how important an early goal would be to open the game up and that certainly did it.”

On Wednesday the true freshman midfielder was honored by being named First-Team All-Summit League, despite not having spent much time at the position until this fall.

“I was a forward before coming in,” Poole said. “Playing a new role was really tough but there was a lot of upperclassmen who were really able to guide you, just kind of helped me along, telling me where to go and just helping me be confident with myself. “

Following the early goal both teams sort of settled in, but Wedemeyer said the warmer weather and high elevation of Denver, Colo. took its toll on the team.

“There’s not a whole lot you can do [about the elevation],” Wedemeyer said. “But hopefully we’ll be a little more prepared for it on Saturday”

SDSU has two Colorado natives on their roster in Diana Potterveld and Shelby Raper, but Wedemeyer said even though they probably acclimated to it sooner it still affected them, having spent the past three months in South Dakota.

Poole nearly scored again in the 55th minute, taking a pass from Potterveld but sending the ball just over the crossbar.

She would not miss again though. Several minutes later Alyssa’s cross bounced in front of the goal and Poole charged and sent it into the back of the net in the 59th minute.

For a while it seemed the Jacks would cruise to victory, but the Bison rallied. Anisha Kinnarath scored on a free kick in the 80th minute.

Two minutes later Genna Joyce had an open opportunity in front of the goal, but she could not get enough on it, allowing Nicole Inskeep to make a diving save.

“We lost a little composure there at the end but we did enough to get the win,” Wedemeyer said.

Ultimately, the Jacks would hold on and prevail, avenging last year’s loss on the Summit League semifinals by the same score.

“It’s always been a tough matchup with NDSU,” Wedemeyer said. “We know every year kind of goes back and forth. Last year we beat them in the regular season and they beat us in the tournament. This year it got flip-flopped. It’s great to be able to get into the championship game.”

SDSU only has one Summit League Tournament Championship since joining the Summit League in 2007. That came in 2008 after which the Jackrabbits upset the University Colorado in the NCAA Tournament.

Standing in their way is the No. 3 seed University of Denver Pioneers who defeated the No. 2 seed IUPUI Jaguars 1-0 Thursday night to advance to the finals.

The Jackrabbits and Pioneers met on Oct. 31 when SDSU blanked Denver 2-0 to lock up the regular season title.

On Saturday at 1 p.m. (MT) the Jacks will look for a similar result, this time seeking the tournament title on their opponent’s home field.