BROOKINGS – It shouldn’t have come as a surprise how evenly matched Sunday’s game at Fishback Soccer Park between South Dakota State and Denver – the top two teams in the Summit League – played out as it took nearly two 10-minute overtime periods to decide the winner.
With a scoreless draw looming, Karlee Manding threaded a pass through the Pioneer defense to Leah Manuleleua, who blasted a shot into the upper right corner of the net to give the Jackrabbits’ a 1-0 win with 21 seconds left on the clock.
That shot gave SDSU a 10-9 edge in shots, although Denver did end up with six shots on goals to the Jacks’ three as Maggie Smither finished with six saves in goal for the shutout win and earned Summit League Defensive Player of the Week.
The visitors had one corner kick in each half while the increase in the home squad’s offensive intensity in the second half showed with six second-half corner kicks, in addition to two in the first overtime.
“Exciting game – credit to Denver, they’re an unbelievable team and every time we play them, it seems to be a game that can swing on a play or two, and it just took until the final seconds for us to make the play,” said SDSU head coach Brock Thompson. “Denver puts a lot of stress on you where if you start to play individually and start to press as a solo player, they are just going to play around you. It took us a little while to figure out the collective element of that – we worked on it in training – but credit to our players, as the game wore on, you could see the confidence grow and you could see their desire rise a little bit.
“I told the team what I’m most proud of is we had the best week of training this week and it’s always great when they get a result with that. Really, it’s about getting better this next week – there’s no easy day in the Summit League – every game is extremely challenging, so it’s about using this (win) and now continuing to grow and be even better on Thursday.”
The Jacks, 8-4-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference, play host to South Dakota in a 6 p.m. match on Thursday at Fishback Soccer Park while Denver, 7-5-2, 3-1 SL, travels to IPFW.