USD soccer falls in Summit League opener

FARGO, N.D. – Two first-half goals helped North Dakota State defeat South Dakota 2-1 on Sunday afternoon at Dacotah Field in Summit League action.

North Dakota State's Lavin Douglass won a battle with Taylor Kelly in the middle of the scoring third and immediately pushed the ball to the bottom right side of the net in the 11th minute to give the Bison (6-4-1, 1-0 Summit) an early 1-0 lead over the Coyotes (5-8, 0-2 Summit).

In the 28th minute, the Bison's Mariah Haberle slipped past Teresa Fontenot on the left side of the field and fired past Emma Harkleroad for a goal into the lower right corner of the box to double the deficit for South Dakota with just under 20 minutes remaining until the halftime break.

South Dakota found its offensive rhythm in the 35th minute and was able to cut into the lead heading into the locker room. Working a counterattack, Tiannah Moore sent a low pass across the box to Kellee Willer, who sent a strong shot past Bison goalkeeper Monica Polgar into the bottom right corner for the Coyotes' first strike of the afternoon; the goal doubled as Willer's 10th career goal and left North Dakota State clinging to a 2-1 advantage after the first 45 minutes.

The Coyotes had their opportunities late, as Alexis Mitchell headed the ball to a streaking Taryn LaBree in the 72nd minute. LaBree booted the ball from the middle of the box, but the chance bounced off the top left of the woodwork to end the dangerous scoring threat.

Minutes later, in the 76th minute, Maddison Sullivan dribbled to the far left of the box and cut to an opening, finding space to fire on goal. Sullivan's effort was just narrowly pushed away by Polgar, one of four saves on the day for the Bison goalkeeper.

Harkleroad and Bella Alessio each played one half in goal for the Coyotes. Harkleroad drew the start and made seven saves across the first 45 minutes of action, while Alessio shut out the Bison in the second half and made a trio of saves to keep the Coyotes within striking distance.

South Dakota ends a three-match road swing next Sunday, Oct. 13, at Noon as the Coyotes travel to Fort Wayne, Ind., to face Summit League foe Purdue Fort Wayne. The Mastodons (4-5-2, 0-1 Summit) dropped their opening conference contest to Western Illinois on Sunday afternoon by a final score of 2-0 and will take on North Dakota on Thursday ahead of their tilt with the Coyotes.