Yankton played Aberdeen Central scoreless through almost the entire first half, but a late score and two early second-half goals lifted the top-ranked Golden Eagles past Yankton 4-1 in Eastern South Dakota Conference girls’ soccer action on Saturday at Crane-Youngworth Field.

Ava Riggs scored the first and last goals for Aberdeen Central (10-0-1), which clinched at least a share of the ESD title with the victory. Megan Fastenau and Taryn Hettich also scored for the Golden Eagles.

Yankton’s goal came off a penalty kick converted by Cora Schurman.

The Gazelles kept the senior-dominated Golden Eagles at bay for much of the first half, until Riggs got loose in front of the net with just 1:27 left in the period.

“We had a really good first half,” said Yankton head coach Tyler Schuring. “At times we got a push.”

Coming out of the break, the Gazelles had hoped to keep the match within reach, but Fastenau came down the field with the opening possession and scored just 18 seconds into the half. Hettich made a steal and run just four and a half minutes later, stretching the Golden Eagle lead to 3-0.

“We wanted to keep them in close, but unfortunately the first 18 seconds put a hamper on that,” Schuring said. “I like the way our players responded.”

Schurman was awarded a penalty kick at the 31:33 mark, after being taken down by a dive from Golden Eagles goalkeeper Paige Burilovich. Schurman responded by putting the ball past Burilovich for the Gazelles’ lone goal in the match.

While the Gazelles put some pressure on Aberdeen Central’s defense, the physical Golden Eagles kept Yankton at bay. Riggs added a goal with 5:11 to play, setting the final margin.

“They have some big athletes, and they know how to push and grind in there,” Schuring said. “Give credit to our midfielders out there. They’re not very big, but they were in there grinding right with them.”

Yankton takes a 2-8-1 record into the final week of the season. The Gazelles travel to Pierre (2-6-1) on Tuesday, then host Huron (0-10-0) on Thursday.

“I want to see us continue our commitment to defense. This was the most organized we’ve been defensively this year,” Schuring said, talking about what he’d like to see out of his team in the final two matches. “These are two games we need to step on the field and take care of.”

Aberdeen Central finishes the regular season at home against Mitchell on Thursday.

Aberdeen Central won the JV match 8-0.

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