Raper rallies ‘Rabbits, resurrects offense

The SDSU women’s soccer team rallied midway through the second half Friday evening to end a streak of five scoreless halves and come back from a 2-0 deficit to secure their first win of the season against the Drake Bulldogs.

“We certainly made things hard on ourselves at times during the game, but the girls, they’re owed a lot of credit for how they battled back from being two to nothing down,” said head coach Lang Wedemeyer. “It showed a lot of character.”

Although they went on the attack early on the Bulldogs’ side of the field, the Jacks failed to create many legitimate scoring opportunities, seemingly stifled by errant passes or tough defense before they could make the final step to setting up a good shot opportunity.

Drake meanwhile bided their time until they began to take the offensive later in the half and capitalized when Kayla Armstrong drove a loose deflection past Elisa Stamatakis and into the net for the lead.

SDSU continued to struggle to create offensive opportunities and when Generve Charles launched Drake’s second goal into the net 10 minutes into the second half things began to look dire for the Jacks.

Sophomore forward Shelby Raper had an answer though. Just two minutes later she found herself with the ball near the Drake net and she took advantage, outmaneuvering a pair of Drake defenders and opening a window to score SDSU’s first goal of the game.

“It definitely gave us a big lift,” Raper said. “I think we were kind of feeling down after playing some big teams like Wisconsin and Minnesota … At halftime coach said, ‘Someone’s got to show me that they want to score’ and I took that challenge, put it on my shoulders and carried the team. And it’s not just me. It’s them. I couldn’t have done it without all of them.”

Raper wasn’t finished though. Six minutes later junior forward Diana Potterveld passed the ball into her from the side and Raper converted for her second goal of the game and third goal of the season.

“Not for South Dakota State [have I scored two goals in a game],” Raper said. “I have in high school, but this is my first time up in the big leagues.”

Coincidentally, two of Raper’s three goals this season have come off assists from Potterveld.

“Di[ana] and I work really well together,” Raper said. “We played this summer in Colorado together and that definitely brought our chemistry even stronger.”

Shortly following the goal, Wedemeyer made the call to give Raper, Potterveld and several other starters a rest on the sideline.

“Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn’t,” Wedemeier said about deciding when to rest players. “Early in the season we’ve got players that because of [their] position it’s hard to play 90 minutes a game. When they came back in they made some good things happen.”

The choice did not prove ill for the Jacks. After about ten minutes of scoreless soccer, Wedemeyer returned Raper, Potterveld and junior midfielder Alyssa Brazil, last year’s leading scorer, to the game and they promptly went on the attack.

Brazil set up the game winning goal as she was tripped trying to round the corner towards the goal, setting up a penalty kick for sophomore Madison Yueill in front of the goal.

With less than 10 minutes to play she buried it and the SDSU defense took it from there, keeping Drake pinned on their end of the field for much of the remainder of the game.

“I thought our girls did a really good job with that,” Wedemeyer said. “We didn’t give them many more chances there at the end and we were able to seal the game away. “

SDSU finished the game outshooting Drake 20-12. Stamatakis for SDSU and Kylynn Moyer for Drake each had four saves in the game.

“Credit her [Stamatakis],” Wedemeyer said. “She came back in the second half and was solid for us and was able to position herself well to make some harder saves look easy.”