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They owned possession, took more shots, and scored plenty more goals, but there is plenty left to do for the University of South Dakota Coyote women’s soccer team.
Saturday at the USD Soccer Complex five different Coyotes scored a goal and head coach Mandy Green watched as her squad blitzed NAIA’s Viterbo University (Lacrosse, Wisconsin) 5-0 in a preseason exhibition match in front of just over 100 supportive and vocal fans.
One can’t get too excited about this win, especially with the expectations the Coyote women have.
But so far, so good.
“It was great, we kept possession, we were able to move the ball around, and it was a nice change,” junior forward Taylor Nivala said. “Every opponent, we are trying to outmuscle them, outshoot them, out everything them.”
Danielle Anderson (16th minute), Nivala (22nd minute), and Corey Strang (42nd minute) all scored during a first half blitz of the V-Hawks that saw USD take a 3-0 lead into the intermission. The Coyotes outshot Viterbo 10-1 in the first 45 minutes and had approximately 70 percent of the possession.
They scored twice late in the contest as Lara Bowman (79th minute) and Shannon Keller (80th minute) added the icing on the cake to account for the final tally. All told, USD outshot Viterbo 22-3 with 11 of the Coyote shots being on target.
“It feels great,” Strang said. “The one I missed the hit the post even felt good, because I was able to rip one like that. Last year against them we beat them 3-0 and this time we kept the ball better and they barely got any shots. We kept it up in our half and that made a big difference.
Viterbo got three shots off with only one forcing goalkeeper Sydney Hardin to make a save. Kylee Willer played the first half and didn’t see a shot that made a dent.
“It was a great first game and I was happy we were able to get as many players in as we did,” Green said. “The level didn’t even drop and the (substitutes) kept the things up. We kept possession of the ball.
“I thought at the beginning of the game we came out a little too hyped up and I thought as we settled down, we connected some things. We stressed getting more players involved and combining with four, five, six players. We hadn’t even worked on finishing yet and I was glad were able to get the shots that we did and score on the shots that we did.”
Colleen Reeves, Strang, Boman, and Brenna Bills all recorded an assist for USD.
“We did what our coaches wanted us to do,” Nivala said. “It’s just that we have another year under our belts and are truly connecting with one another. We understand each other now.”
Next up will be the official season opener at home against NCAA Division II’s Northern State (Aberdeen) on Friday at 4 p.m.
“We are so much better than where we were last year,” Green said. “It was a great first step for us and a great confidence builder. We will see what kind of progress we make this week and work on getting a little bit better on a lot of things, every single day.”
Returning starting goalkeeper Mackenzie Viktor sat out due to an ailing knee that is still recovering following an injury sustained in the offseason.
“She did an MRI and it came out clear, no torn meniscus or anything,” Green said of Viktor. “It’s sore, really sore, and it’s just an inflamed knee from too many practices.”
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