The third-seeded Yankton Gazelles scored four unanswered goals to defeat the Spearfish Spartans 4-1 in the first round of South Dakota ‘AA’ playoffs at Crane-Youngworth Field on Tuesday evening. 

The win was the Gazelle’s (10-2-2) first playoff victory in the sanctioned-sport era and seventh triumph in eight matches.

“It was a stressful game,” Yankton head coach Tyler Schuring said. “We knew Spearfish wasn’t a team that was going to let us walk all over them.”

The 14-seeded Spartans (3-7-5) took a stunning 1-0 lead halfway through the first half via a goal on a connected corner-kick from seventh grader Brooke Peotter.

“We didn’t give up, we stuck with it,” Junior Payton Wolfgram said. “I think we were all a little shocked, because we controlled a good majority of the first half. Everyone knew in practice that we worked on establishing how we were going to score. It just took some more time than we thought.”

The Gazelles snatched the momentum late in the first half and didn’t look back. Wolfgram scored on a put-back that popped out of the goalie’s gloves to knot the game at intermission.

“I don’t really know what happened,” Wolfgram said. “I definitely think it picked everyone up, though. We got the mindset that we can do this and we just ran with it.”

Five minutes into the second half, freshman Cora Schurman provided Yankton their first lead of the contest as she outran the defense.

“We knew we needed to pick up the intensity for the second half,” Schuring said. “We just needed to play to our hand. I was really impressed with what I saw in the second half.”

Junior Jaiden Boomsma gave the Gazelles some relief, as she netted a goal just minutes later.

“2-1 is still a scary score,” Schuring said. “The third goal was a stress reliever. It wasn’t until then were we able to relax and play looser. It was good to see.”

Sophomore Kylie Bochman tallied a goal in the victory for Yankton. The Gazelles produced 16 shots in the contest and five corner-kicks in the contest. Junior goalie Sadie Fedders had two saves, as well.

“When you’re attacking the ball, it increases momentum and confidence,” Wolfgram said. “You create so many more opportunities and chances to score.”

Spearfish had three shots and one corner-kick. Junior goalie Taya Lucas had 10 saves in the loss for the Spartans.

Wolfgram felt the Gazelles benefited from the home-field advantage in the first playoff soccer match at Crane-Youngworth Field.

“It’s awesome to have another home game,” she said. “The fans support is awesome, and we aren’t used to that big of a crowd we had tonight. We just love playing here.”

Yankton hosts sixth-seeded Rapid City Central (7-3-2) on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the ‘AA’ playoffs at Crane-Youngworth Field. Start time is set for 5 p.m.

“We will have to come out and play the beginning 10 to 20 minutes a little bit harder,” Schuring said. “We need to mark up on set pieces better. Rapid City Central will be a faster, more physical team. We need to prepare for that.”

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