Coming off a 1-1 weekend series in Kansas City, the Coyote soccer team aims to push through unprecedented challenges during its spring Summit League season.
After playing in the snow and sub-freezing temperatures against Kansas City the women walked away with a 3-2 loss and a 5-0 shutout win. The difference in the two games was playing their best the entire 90 minutes.
“We made big mistakes that didn’t allow us to win the game,” head coach Michael Thomas said. “I think some of that is not being on the field for a long time. Kansas City got to play in the opening weekend of the conference and I think that was a significant advantage for them.”
Paying attention to the smaller details and remaining focused inside the penalties created more chances for the Coyotes in game two.
“We stressed that we were not going to make huge changes to who we are, we were just going to double down on it and try to iron out the problems,” Thomas said.
The Coyotes have not only had to adapt to game-time challenges but to practice and weather challenges that come with playing soccer in South Dakota in February. The team battles for space inside the DakotaDome with track, football, softball, golf and tennis.
“I appreciate that they don’t complain, they just get to know the world and we get a little bit out of it every day no matter where we are or what conditions we have to deal with.” Thomas said.
When space is not available inside the Dome, the team clears the snow off the soccer field.
“One week my coaches went out there and shoveled the snow and we got a 20-by-20-yard box of turf open for us to practice, so we had 32 girls practicing in a 20-by-20-yard box,” senior midfielder Alexis Mitchell said.
The team knew heading into the season that weather would be a challenge during the winter months but adapted to the challenge to be able to play, Mitchell said.
“The Summit League made a statement saying that we can play a game in zero-degree weather,” Mitchell said. “So whenever we’re out there practicing in bad weather we basically say if we can train in it, we can play in it.”
The older members of the team encourage the freshman to stay positive and try to give them as much true college experience as possible, senior midfield Sunny Huettner said.
“Even though we’re kind of on lockdown we try making it fun for them and make sure that they’re okay,” Huettner said.
The team is focusing on playing as many games as possible and to embrace the challenges because they finally get to play again, Huettner said.
“Its my last time I’ll be playing soccer so I just want to have as much fun as possible,” Huettner said. “We hype each other up and then we get down to business before the game. I just hope when I leave the team is better than when I got here.” Huettner said