The SDSU women’s soccer team failed to reached the Summit League Championship game after suffering a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to their rivals from North Dakota State.
The Jackrabbits (11-5-3, 6-1-0) won a 1-0 duel at home earlier this season, avenging a late overtime loss to the Bison (9-9-0, 4-3-0) last season. Hence, from its official announcement the game was destined to be hard fought and close until the end. Friday’s game also marked the return of Dani Patterson, who was injured during the last NDSU game, and Diana Potterveld to the starting lineup.
“I don’t think either one was at full strength, and certainly Diana being out for several weeks,” head coach Lang Wedemeyer said. “She provided some very good things for us, but wasn’t a hundred percent and Dani a great job and played the whole game, but still wasn’t quite a hundred percent yet. Whether that mattered in the end or not, I don’t know, but it was nice to have them back.”
The Jacks attacked the Bison goal all night, but NDSU goalie Sierra Bonham once again seemed almost infallible guarding the net. She earned Second Team All-Summit League honors for her play during the regular season and made seven saves during the game. Meanwhile, a Jackrabbits defense that has shut out 11 teams this year including six during Summit League play surrendered their first goal of the game in the 33rd minute when Anisha Kinnarath scored off of a Lauren Miller assist. The two later reversed the process in the 65th minute when Miller scored off of a Kinnarath assist to put the Bison up 2-0.
“I think that we believed in ourselves right from the beginning,” Wedemeyer said. “That we were going to be able to get ourselves back into it. Even when we went down two we responded right away to get one back and I think our girls worked incredibly hard to try to equalize.”
Just seconds after the Miller goal, the Jacks bounced back to score a goal off of a Megan Kinston pass to Alyssa Brazil, bringing themselves back to within one. With their season on the line, they fought hard to tie the game. Brazil and Madison Yeuill forced Bonham to make back to back saves in the 71st minute. In the 73rd minute, senior Caylee Costello received a yellow card after making an aggressive play. A minute later, Brazil forced Bonham to make yet another save. Again in the 82nd minute, the Jacks watched shots by Diana Potterveld and Alexa Trakalo just miss the mark.
The Jackrabbits finished the game with 15 shots, eight of them being on goal. Potterveld had five shots, two of them on goal. Brazil had three shots, all of them being on goal, including the Jacks only goal of the game. Costello also finished the game with multiple shots, two, one of them being on goal. Costello and Kingston were named to the all-tournament team for their play.
Defensively, the Jacks limited the Bison to nine shots, only two of them being on goal. Nevertheless, the Bison made the most of their opportunities, something that the Jacks have at times struggled with.
“I think that we’ve always have expectations of winning a conference championship – regular season and tournament,” Wedemeyer said. “So the fact that we didn’t accomplish that again this year is somewhat disappointing. At the same time we’re very proud of what the girls did accomplish and I think that they have a lot to keep their heads up about.”
For their play during the season, Costello and Patterson were honored by being named First Team All-Summit League. Goalie Nicole Inskeep and senior Darci Miller received Second Team All-Summit League honors. Inskeep, Ashley Adams, Shelby Raper, and McKenzie Wolf made the Summit League’s All-Freshmen team.
“I think it’s always nice when your players are recognized for their hard work and accomplishments,” Wedemeyer said. “And I think that we were one of the best defensive teams around. … I think probably the person that was left out of that was Katie McNeary. [She] probably deserved to be listed somewhere in there for her contributions within that defensive unit. But those were nice awards for the players that got them.”
The players were not the only ones honored though. Wedemeyer, who has coached the team for all 14 seasons of its existence and led the program’s transition from Division II to Division I, was named Summit League coach of the year along with Denver’s Jeff Hooker.
“Again, it’s nice to be recognized for what you’re doing with your program,” Wedemeyer said. “And I think it’s as much a tribute to myself and also my staff, Brock [Thompson] and Christa [Nyblom], and what the players were able to do game in and game out.”