After a scoreless first half, the top-ranked Yankton Gazelles reverberated for five unanswered second half goals in route to defeat 16th-seed Sioux Falls Washington 5-0 on Tuesday evening in the opening round of the South Dakota State Class AA Girls’ Soccer Tournament at Crane-Youngworth Field.
“I think we’re definitely a second half team,” Gazelles senior Madison Wuebben said. “We definitely had our opportunities in the first half, we just weren’t able to connect on them. But we stuck to what we were doing, and the score showed that.”
Wuebben was right.
Yankton (12-0-2) had eight shots-on-goal in the first half – and couldn’t find a way to put the ball in the back of the net.
“We were relaxed, we know that we were going to continue to play well,” Yankton head coach Tyler Schuring explained postgame. “To say there wasn’t any pressure (at the half) I’d be lying. But I’m comfortable with our team. I knew that we were creating shots and they were bound to fall eventually.”
The Gazelles first three goals came right out the gate, in the first six minutes of the second half. Wuebben netted a free kick from roughly 30-yards out, Madison Schroeder booted a rebounded Wuebben free kick and Cora Schurman snuck one past the goalkeeper’s gloves on the right side of the box (assisted by Payton Wolfgram).
“We came out in the first couple minutes and had a couple goals,” Schuring said of the far cry of scoring. “We just pressed them. And, you know, we knew that the goals would fall. And once we got that first one, we knew we’re going to be able to continue to put the pressure on them.”
After Washington (1-12) had a few possessions on their side of the attacking third, Yankton found an insurance goal in the 66th minute. Megan Cap scored on a rebounded shot from Schurman in the thick of a scrum.
“As long as we keep ourselves in the game and keep the score close with a solid defense, we will be okay” Schuring said. “We’re always going to give ourselves an opportunity. I can’t say anything more about the team that hasn’t been said – they’re truly second half team. They fight to the end and we really saw that tonight.”
Wuebben ended the scoring assault the way it started – a free kick – in which she put the ball in almost the exact same spot; the top left corner.
“It’s a blast to play with these guys,” she added. “We really are a team and act like it. We don’t care who does the scoring, as long as we win. I love playing this game with these girls. It’s really a lot of fun.”
She feels that last year’s playoff run and ultimate abrupt ending before the state championship game has made the team prepared for this year’s go around.
“I think going through what we did last year has helped us a lot,” Wuebben said. “We haven’t lost anyone here and we’ve been playing together a lot, more than we ever have. It just makes some of the tougher times easier, for sure.”
Yankton advances to the quarterfinals on Saturday, with a showdown against Sioux Falls O’Gorman (8-4-1). The Gazelles handed the Lady Knights a 2-0 defeat on Aug. 29.
“O’Gorman was a tough task for us early in the year and it’s going to be a physical game,” Schuring said. “They’re a team that likes to play the ball in the air so we’re really going to have to focus on controlling the ball and finding that first outlet If we want to be successful against them. They’re well coached team they got some very talented players out there. We’re just glad we’re at home.”
Kickoff for the match is to be determined. Follow @YanktonSports for updates on Saturday’s schedule.