Four games remain in the regular season, but the University of South Dakota women’s soccer team has only one win so far this season.
Head coach Mandy Green said the tough season has created a lot of tension on the team.
“We are one goal score away from having an eight or nine win season,” Green said. “The girls are frustrated because they know we should be winning. We’re trying to just keep them focused on what they need to do to play to their potential.”
With over 20 freshmen on the roster and only three upperclassmen, junior Erin Bello said she believes it’s the lack of experience that has caused the rocky season.
“Having a lot of freshmen is different than having a core group that we’ve had in the past with older girls having more experience on the field,” Bello said. “Having that mental attitude on the field is something you get a lot stronger with after having played with an older team and playing other teams that have a lot more experience.”
As Green said, the team has had a harsh year losing games by one or two goals. Four games have been lost by one goal and five games have gone into double overtime, with three ending in ties and two in one-point losses.
Freshman Lauren Bennett said it’s mental errors that have cost them late in the games.
“We’ve made some unfortunate mistakes, but we’ve learned something from each game,” Bennett said. “From the games we’ve lost, we’ve taken things from them and tried to apply them to the next game.”
This past weekend, a goal with less than 10 minutes remaining in the game by sophomore Jenny Teslow brought the Coyotes within one of Missouri-Kansas City, but USD wasn’t able to continue its late push and fell 1-2.
It was the fourth goal of the year for Teslow, who leads the team in goals scored.
Heading into the match, Green said she didn’t expect it to be as tough as previous road games.
“Every time we’ve traveled we’ve gotten better with managing our mind and body while we’re on the road,” Green said. “We’re going to come out and compete and try to apply what we’re learning in practice to game situations.”
Monday, the team started a three home game stretch hosting Northern Iowa.
“Home field advantage always helps,” Bennett said. “Sometimes traveling takes a toll on you so it’s good the other teams are coming to us. Maybe they’ll be a little tired when they come to play.”
Against the Panthers, the Coyotes fell again, despite being at home. The loss drops USD’s record to 1-11-3.
Friday, the team hosts state rival South Dakota State University and Sunday it hosts North Dakota State University.
With only two games remaining after this weekend, Bennett said she is confident the team will finish the season strong.
“We have definitely improved since the beginning of the season, but there’s still some things we need to work on,” she said. “Everyday we continually get better.”
Although Bello describes this year as a rollercoaster, she said she knows the team has what it takes to be successful.
“We’re not super consistent, but we’ve seen it so we know that it’s there,” Bello said.
Reach reporter Cassie Bartlett at Cassie.Bartlett@usd.edu