The USD women’s soccer team dropped their season opener to Wyoming 2-4 at the USD Soccer Complex Tuesday Evening.
The Coyotes struck first 12:47 into the match, when USD senior defender Tayler Karas delivered a long pass onto Wyoming’s side of the field, setting up an uncontested shot from junior midfielder Amanda Carpio, who caught up and bent the ball above the goalie and into the left corner of the net. This goal marked the first of the Coyote’s season and of Summit League play.
After a strong defensive showing, USD led 1-0 at halftime.
The Coyote’s momentum continued less than six minutes into the second half when freshman forward Tiannah Moore touched left and connected with the upper-right corner of the net after freshman Joana Zanin blocked two clear attempts in front of Wyoming’s goal.
33 seconds later, Wyoming freshman forward Amber Vokoun scored their first goal of the season on a rebounded shot from junior Summer Taube, making the score 2-1.
From there, Wyoming’s offense took control.
Cowboy senior midfielder Annika Clayton tied the game in the 63rd minute with a strike assisted by freshman Savannah Warner. Two minutes later, Wyoming took the lead when senior forward Brittany Stark poked in a goal with help from sophomore Elle Webber.
Clayton scored her second goal on a free kick with 17 minutes remaining, bumping the score to 2-4, where it would stay for the remainder of the game.
USD shot seven times, five of them landing on goal, while Wyoming shot 15 times, with ten of them landing on goal.
Carpio landed all three of her shots on goal, Karas and junior forward Kellee Willer each notched an assist, and on the defensive side, senior goalkeeper Parker Rytz recorded six saves, according to GoYotes.
Prior to his first game as head coach of USD women’s soccer, Michael Thomas said he’s optimistic about the state of his team.
“The returners are fit and ready to go and the freshman are all bringing something to the table,” Thomas said. “More than anything, I’m really pleased with the mentality of the players at this point.”
Five days before the opener, USD played their first of two exhibition games at the University of North Dakota, losing 1-2, then beating the College of Saint Mary 13-0 at their second exhibition match in Vermillion.
“We went on a tough trip to North Dakota and generated a lot of offense,” Thomas said. “We spent a lot of time on pure finishing and just putting the ball in the back of the net. We’ve got a lot of moving pieces as players are in different roles than they’ve played in the past, and we’ll get more comfortable with that in every minute of every game.”
Tayler Karas said she believes the team is built differently this year compared to last.
“We’ve made a lot of improvements,” Karas said. “We have a game plan and we’re set to it. Our chemistry is probably the best it has ever been.”
In 2017, Karas started 16 of 17 games for the Coyotes, including three shutout victories, according to GoYotes.
Joining Karas in the backfield is junior Courtney Stodola, who said the team is engineering a new offense up front.
“Like Tayler [Karas] said, we have a new gameplan. Right now we’re focusing on getting the ball wide and crossing it in,” Stodola said. “It’s about the simple things and executing them.”
Above all, Stodola said the Coyotes are concentrated on a Summit League title.
“We’re focused on what our goals are,” Stodola said. “We’re going in hard to everything. We all know what we want.”
Karas and Stodola said Coach Thomas reminds his players to “do the ‘all-the-time’ things all the time”, something Thomas said is ingrained into the mindsets of all USD athletes.
“We talked about this when I first came here. One of the things that defines USD athletics, when you look at all the sports that have had so much success, is the competitive mentality,” Thomas said. “What we’re starting with right now is the simple goal of competing during every minute of every game, knowing some of our larger goals will follow if we can first accomplish that minor goal.”
USD visits Cedar Falls, Iowa to play Northern Iowa at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday.