The No. 3 seed South Dakota State made history Saturday as it claimed its third consecutive Summit League Tournament Championship, taking down fourth-seeded Oral Roberts in penalty kicks, 3-2, after a scoreless draw between the two programs at Dacotah Field.
SDSU (10-7-3) had 14 shots on the day compared to ORU (11-9-2), which finished with five as the Jackrabbits earned the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back-to-back seasons.
Maggie Smither, named the tournament's Most Valuable Player, played all 120 minutes for the Jackrabbits on Saturday and earned one save, stopping three penalty kick shots in the shootout.
Offensively, Nicole Hatcher (two shots on goal) and Tori Poole (one shot on goal) each had three shots for the Jacks as Lauren Kressock and Annie Williams added two. Four others from SDSU put up one shot.
Neither team established itself in holding momentum through the opening 45 minutes, though SDSU held a 5-2 advantage in shots after the first. Late in the period, SDSU looked to take control with three shots in the final three minutes before the pause, but a pair of defensive blocks and a wide shot as time expired sent the teams to the locker room, even at 0-0.
Out the break, the defensive struggle continued between the two programs, though it was SDSU recording the game's first shot on goal in the 61st minute off a free kick from 15 yards out.
In the 75th, SDSU had another scoring chance as Bianca Madonia fired a low cross from the near corner to the top of the box, but a Jackrabbit shot sailed high to keep things even. A near identical situation arose just moments later, but a clearance from the ORU defense ended the scoring threat.
ORU countered in the 80th with a momentum swing of its own, countering the Jackrabbit attack on a breakway attack before Smither stood firm and stalled the threat with a tip save. The Golden Eagles continued to push with consecutive corner kicks after the save, but SDSU defense stood firm and kept things square.
Nearing the end of regulation, Poole hit a shot in the box with four seconds remaining off a cross from Hatcher before ORU's Ryleigh Bohnenstiehl came up with a diving save to force overtime.
SDSU and ORU traded runs over the opening minutes of the original overtime before the Jacks again took momentum late in the period. ORU was whistled for a foul in the 97th minute of play just to the right of the box, and after a free kick gave the Jacks a corner kick the Jacks sent a header just inches over the cross bar in the 98th.
Headed for the second extra period, the Jacks had a corner kick in the opening minute of action but nothing came of it, and on an ensuing counter attack ORU was whistled for offsides. Two minutes later SDSU had its first shot of the period as Annie Williams took aim, but another save for ORU continued the game. SDSU manufactured several more scoring chances before the end of regulation, but for the second time in the tournament the Jackrabbits found themselves in a shootout.
Smither came through in the clutch once again for the Jacks, stopping three consecutive penalty kick efforts as Williams and Ashley hit in the first and third rounds, putting the Jacks ahead 2-0 with two rounds to go. ORU found the net on their fourth and fifth tries, and though SDSU had its fourth attempt blocked, Poole went into the box with a chance to win the title for the Jacks.
At the referees whistle, Poole stepped forward, drove her shot past a diving keeper into the net and a mob ensued near the goal line as the Jacks claimed their third consecutive Summit League title.
Head Coach Lang Wedemeyer
On winning the title ...
"We told the girls all year long that in order to get to a place like this and have a chance to win a championship it was going to come down to a lot of heart and a lot of grit. That's exactly what these last two games were, and credit to them for just kind of plugging away until they found a way to get a result."
On back-and-forth gameplay ...
"Oral Roberts is a very talented team and very dynamic. You're right, at times we controlled them pretty well and other times they broke free. It was a lot about our ability to keep the ball on their end and create better chances. We had the opportunities to win it in regulation but again, they way they (SDSU) did it showed a lot of heart."
On Maggie Smither earning the Tournament MVP honors ...
"Maggie's played well all year, and splitting her and Nikki was important for us and we felt like that was a strength of our team all season. The moment arose for her to step up, she did and I couldn't be more proud of her."
On NCAA Tournament outlook ...
"Well really it's a lot about that draw and it's a lot about us getting some of our players healthy who were injured this weekend. It's about us being able to enjoy this for the next couple of days and then refocus but not be satisfied. That's kind of what happened to us last year where you know we were kind of just satisfied with winning the tournament and we weren't as prepared mentally to go and play in the first round."
Jackrabbit All-Summit Tournament Team members
* - Most Valuable Player
With the Summit League's automic bid to the NCAA Tournament, the Jacks will await their draw as the NCAA Selection Show airs on Monday, Nov. 7 at 3:30 p.m. CT. The show can be seen through the above links, or fans may join the SDSU women's soccer team at Cubby's in Brookings, beginning at 3 p.m., for the official watch party.
• Saturday's game marked the eighth time this season SDSU has gone to the half tied in a scoreless match.
• After a No. 3 seed had never won the Summit League title as of 2015, South Dakota State has now claimed the tournament championship as a three-seed in back-to-back years, moving its record to 2-0-3 all-time as the No. 3 seed Summit League Tournament play.
• The Jacks have now advanced in four of its five all-time shootouts. The team has never had back-to-back shootout games.
• SDSU went into overtime for the second consecutive game on Saturday and is now 1-1-3 in overtime games this season. The Jacks are 17-15-38 all-time in overtime matches with a 7-9 mark in single overtime games and a 10-6-38 mark in double overtime contests.
• No team has ever won three straight Summit League Tournaments, though Oakland took four from 2000-03 when the league previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference up until 2007.
• Freshman Alexa Hepner is now five minutes away from joining SDSU's top 10 single-season minutes played record list.
• Maggie Smither is the third straight Jackrabbit to earn tournament MVP honors, she joins Tori Poole (2014) and DIana Potterveld (2015) in those honors. Prior to that, the Jackrabbits has just one Summit League Tournament MVP in 2008 when Erin Kasmarik earned the honor.