VERMILLION — Maddison Sullivan was given an opportunity.
She was presented a chance, late in her senior year of high school on the other side of the state, to try to make a name for herself on the Division I college soccer scene.
That’s exactly what she’s attempting to do.
“I’m just trying to do everything I can be to be where I need to be for the team,” said Sullivan, a Rapid City native who is now a junior on the South Dakota soccer roster.
“Mandy (Green), the former coach, gave me a chance. They took a risk.”
Two years later, Sullivan has taken advantage.
The former Rapid City Central standout scored a goal and recorded an assist in USD’s season-opening 2-0 victory over Idaho State in Vermillion.
“It was my first time ever starting here, so it was a big change,” Sullivan said. “My nerves were definitely up.”
After USD’s coaching staff at the time saw Sullivan play, she was offered an opportunity to join the Coyotes as a walk-on. It was February of her senior year of high school, which she admits now was “very late” in the process.
“I was the last commit,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan then played in 16 games as a freshman and then scored two goals in 12 games last fall as a sophomore.
“She’s put in a tremendous amount of work,” second-year head coach Michael Thomas said.
“She had some technical work she needed to do, but she really came into her own and her own understanding last spring.”
With Sullivan on the field for the opening whistle Friday, the Coyotes wasted no time building an early lead.
Senior Amanda Carpio scored a goal 24 seconds into the game on a double assist by senior Kellee Willer and Sullivan.
“The difference in that was setting the tone for the whole game,” Sullivan said.
Which, of course, is always the plan.
“We talk a lot about getting an early chance and putting it away, and we’re not always successful,” Thomas said. “That’s a credit to the women for being ready to go from the opening whistle.”
The game stayed 1-0 into the second half until Sullivan scored on an unassisted goal in the 58th minute. While the defense, along with sophomore goalkeeper Emma Harkleroad (four saves), was sharp all game, Sullivan was the star.
“This year I decided it was my year,” she said. “I’m an upperclassman, so I wanted to come in stronger.”
The Coyotes will host Utah State on Sunday at noon.
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