The South Dakota State soccer team is heading back to the NCAA Tournament, advancing 4-2 over top-seed University of Denver on penalty kicks to claim the 2019 Summit League championship.
A 1-1 tie extended through regulation and a pair of golden-goal overtimes, setting the stage for penalty kicks at Fishback Soccer Park. After two makes and a miss from both teams, Maggie Smither came up big with a save on Denver’s fourth attempt. Eden Brooker sealed the game from there, burying her effort into the back of the net.
Leah Manuleleua scored SDSU’s lone goal and led the team with a pair of shots, while Maya Hansen added an assist. Smither had four saves and earned tournament MVP honors for her efforts. Smither was joined by Shayna Stubbs, Carina McLennan and Darien Poelstra on the all-tournament team.
The Jacks are going to the NCAA tournament for the fifth time as a Division I program, the fourth time since 2014 and the first time since 2016.
The Jacks had a trio of near-misses in the opening frame from Poelstra, Stubbs and Emily Cameron, but it was Denver that broke through in the 37th off the foot of Hannah Adler to take a 1-0 lead.
Down 1-0 at the break, State picked up the pressure out of the locker room and found an equalizer in the 58th. After taking possession in the midfield, Marisa Schulz sent a ball toward the top of the box for Hansen. The league’s freshman of the year evaded a trio of Pioneers on her way into the box, and then sent a low cross toward the feet of Manuleleua, who sent it into a near-open net.
Regulation time expired with the match locked at 1-1 and both teams even at seven shots apiece. The Jackrabbits held tough on defense through both overtime periods, keeping Denver scoreless on three shots as Smither collected two of her saves in the final 10 minutes.
SDSU will host an official NCAA Selection Show watch party Monday at 3 p.m. from Cubby’s Sports Bar and Grill in Brookings.
The show, set to begin at 3:30 p.m., is aired online and will be streamed at Cubby’s. Fans are invited to join the team to celebrate and watch as the Jackrabbits learn their draw for the tournament, which begins next week.