USF falls in defensive battle in season opener

SIOUX FALLS - The University of Sioux Falls soccer team took the pitch for the first time in the 2019 season in what would be a highly competitive game between the Cougars and Fort Hays State. The Tigers were able to get the edge though, leaving the USF Sports Complex with a 1-0 victory on Sunday.

Out of the gate, the Tigers were on the attack with the first four shots in the match. Brayden Paul was able to keep the Tigers off the board, saving all three shots of the four that were on goal.

The Cougars' defense also made a lot of great plays, keeping the Tigers to five shots (four on goal) in the first half.

The sole shot of the first half for the Cougars came from Lily McKown in the 35th minute when she took a shot towards the right side, but an extended goalkeeper for the Tigers was able to stop it.

Both teams struggled to get any room for shots until the 48th minute, when the Tigers' Cailey Perkins feed the ball to Darby Hirsch who took a shot from the back left corner of the penalty box that found its way past Holli Knudsen on the other side of the net to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

The Cougars had their chances for an equalizer in the 53rd and 90th minutes, but could not capitalize.

Splitting the halves, Paul saw five shots, four on goal, with the defense kept the pressure off Knudson for a majority of the second half, allowing only two shots in the second half.

Taking shots at the goal for the Cougars were Olivia Valdez, Kassidy Graber, and McKown.

The Cougars will recuperate and look to get in the winning column when they travel to Missouri Friday and Saturday. On Friday, the Cougars will face Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo., at 4 p.m. Then on Sunday, the Cougars will take on their third Mid-America Athletics Association foe in the Missouri Western State Griffons at 1 p.m. in St. Joseph, Mo.