BROOKINGS, S.D. (SDSU) — South Dakota State earned its eighth overall conference tournament championship, and seventh as a member of The Summit League, as the Jackrabbits defeated Omaha 1-0 to win the 2023 Summit League Women’s Soccer Championship on Sunday at Fishback Soccer Park. The tournament title is the third for the SDSU program since 2019.
In a match that was heavily affected by wind gusts of 30 miles per hour, it took just one second-half opportunity to make the difference.
The Jackrabbits had to go against the wind in the first half and their chances were severely limited due to the conditions. SDSU midfielder Laney Murdzek had the Jackrabbits’ lone shot of the first half saved by Omaha’s Emma Konsmo in the fifth minute. The Mavericks tried to take advantage, but Omaha was unable to capitalize as three of its six shots were saved by SDSU goalkeeper Jocelyn Tanner.
“It’s one of those things that affects the game so much,” South Dakota State head coach Brock Thompson said. “It was really a tale of two halves. We had to just manage it going into it, it’s hard to get it out of your end, but it takes some precision to do it.
“When you’re with the wind, the margin you have to work with is much higher. I thought we did enough in the first half to manage it, but we knew that against Omaha that it’s always highly contested and today proved it.”
The Jackrabbits and Mavericks went into the second half scoreless and SDSU had its opening with the wind at its back. South Dakota State recorded the first shot of the second half and had four corner kicks in the first 20 minutes of the period.
SDSU seized the moment in the 67th minute. Konsmo tried to send a goal kick out of the Omaha zone, but the ball was caught up in the wind. An Omaha defender got a header on it, but Jackrabbit freshman midfielder Ellie Gusman stepped in to take possession. She dribbled to the top of the box and hit a right-footed strike that sailed into the top-back corner of the net and gave the Jacks the eventual game-winning goal.
“(Omaha is) hard to score on and they defend exceptionally well,” Thompson said. “They’ve obviously got good players in a variety of positions. They’ve got the league’s offensive and defensive players of the year, so they’re good on both ends.
“We knew it’d take spectacular plays by either team to score goals today and credit to Ellie, she put one on the board for us.”
SDSU stood stout defensively over the next 23 minutes to close out another Summit League Championship. Omaha didn’t produce a shot through the entire second half as SDSU held on to possession over the majority of the final 45 minutes of action.
The Jackrabbits, who took second in The Summit League regular season standings, earned the conference’s automatic qualification to the 2023 NCAA Tournament. SDSU has now won Summit League tournament titles seven times (2023, 2021, 2019, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2008). The Jackrabbits have earned Summit League crowns in seven of their eight championship appearances.
“It feels incredible,” Thompson said. “We faced some adversity this season and I’ve felt like God’s had a hand on this team. I’m so proud of the players. It was a gritty performance on a really difficult day to play.”
The Jackrabbits had four players selected as All-Tournament honorees. Katherine Jones was named the Tournament MVP while she was joined as All-Tournament selections by Avery Murdzek, Kayla Anderson and Reagan Anderson.
The Jackrabbits await to see who they’ll play in the 2023 DI women’s soccer NCAA tournament. The complete 64-team field will be announced on Monday during the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Selection Show which will be streamed on NCAA.com starting at 3 p.m. CT. Cubby’s Sports Bar & Grill in Brookings will serve as the site for the South Dakota State watch party.
- South Dakota State claimed its 14th overall championship since the program’s inception in 2000. The Jackrabbits won their eighth overall tournament title which includes a United Soccer Conference tournament championship in 2006.
- The Jackrabbits will be making their seventh overall NCAA Tournament appearance. SDSU is 1-5-1 all-time in the NCAA tourney with its lone victory coming in 2008 over Colorado. The NCAA showing will be the third with Brock Thompson as head coach.
- SDSU and Omaha played in front of 476 fans at Fishback Soccer Park Sunday. The attendance was the second largest for the Jackrabbits at Fishback in program history.
- Omaha outshot the Jackrabbits in the match by a 6-5 margin, while SDSU had a 7-1 edge in corner kicks.
- SDSU had five position players compete for all 90 minutes in Jones, Reagan Anderson, Avery Murdzek, Kaycee Manding and Hayley Lindaman. Laney Murdzek, who had a team-high two shots, competed for 82. Taryn Hettich paced the reserves with 67 minutes of action while she was followed by Maleah Evans (49).