The Summit League Women’s Soccer Championship kicks off with the semifinal games on Thursday, April 15th, and the championship game on the 17th. The tournament is being played at Caniglia Field on the campus of University of Nebraska Omaha. The first game (2 PM Kickoff) features the top seed University of Denver taking on the 4th seed University of South Dakota, and the second game (5 PM kickoff) features the hosts Omaha and the 2nd seed South Dakota State University. This article will preview the tournament, the teams, and the match ups as we have an exciting week of soccer ahead of us.
While the Summit League may not be the toughest league when it comes to overall RPI, it’s tournament is one of the toughest postseason tournaments to qualify for. Unlike most other Division I conferences, only 4 teams of the 9 make the Summit League conference tournament. This differs greatly from other similar Division I mid-major conferences (see below for non-COVID year comparison). The separation between the squads and the type of soccer that is played in the conference makes it a battle every year to make the tournament. Personally, I think the Summit League Conference needs to consider bumping up the total number of teams to 6. The winner of the conference tournament gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, it is unlikely but the Summit League may get two teams in, thanks in part to Denver and South Dakota State’s high RPI.
Conference Tournaments (non-COVID years)
|Conference||# of Teams in Conference||# of Teams in Tournament|
#1 University of Denver
Record: 14-2-1 Overall, 14-1-1 Conference
Coach: Jeff Hooker (29th Season)
- Natalie Beckman, junior forward from Denver, CO, has tallied 10 goals and 12 assists for a total of 32 points. She leads the Summit League in all three categories, and is probably the Summit League Offensive Player of the Year.
- Taylor Parker, senior defender from Aurora, CO, has started and played in 15 games this Spring for the Pioneers. Twice earning defensive player of the week honors, the 2019 Summit League First Teamer, is a leader and an important piece in Denver’s defense.
Denver is a really talented team and they have put together a really solid season, and they are deservedly receiving national attention for it. With that said, they are not out of reach of the rest of the tournament field. Both Omaha and South Dakota played to close 1 goal losses, with South Dakota taking Denver to overtime. South Dakota State is the only conference team to put a notch in Denver’s “loss” column, the Jacks also tied Denver on that weekend. Denver is also coming off a road trip to Kansas City last weekend, and it is a quick turnaround to travel again and play on Thursday. While I fully expect the Pioneers to be in the championship game, don’t be surprised if they leave Omaha empty-handed and disappointed.
#2 South Dakota State University
Record: 12-0-4 Overall, 12-0-4 Conference
Coach: Brock Thompson (4th season)
- Maureen Tolley (Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Marian / Gretna Soccer Club
- Reagan Anderson (Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Elkhorn South / Gretna Soccer Club
- Delaney Grant (Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Millard North / Gretna Soccer Club
- Cecilia Limongi (Junior) – Elkhorn, NE – Elkhorn South / Elite Girls Academy
- Abigail Kastens (Junior) – Lincoln, NE – Waverly / Gretna Soccer Club
- Maya Hansen, sophomore forward from Savage, MN, has tallied 7 goals and 2 assists for a total of 16 points. Hansen started and played in all 16 matches for the Jacks, and was named Summit League Player of the Week after scoring a hat trick against UMKC.
- Eden Brooker, senior midfielder from Santa Rosa, CA, has tallied 4 goals and 3 assists for a total of 11 points. Brooker started and played in all 16 matches for the Jacks, and was twice named Summit League Player of the Week.
South Dakota State has quietly put together an excellent season. No matter the circumstances, going unbeaten in a regular season is an impressive feat. South Dakota State is the only conference team to get the better of Denver this year, and if it weren’t for the draws against fellow tournament teams South Dakota and Omaha, the Jacks would have been regular season champions and the 1 seed in the tournament. South Dakota State’s match up against Omaha will be interesting, because the last time they competed was early in the season and the game was indoors which is a significantly different playing environment than what Caniglia will offer. South Dakota State has solid Nebraska ties with 5 players who all contribute at a certain level, and Coach Brock Thompson is a native of Blair, Nebraska.
Coach: Tim Walters (4th season)
- Grace Ostergaard (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Millard West / Elite Girls Academy
- Gracie Parsons (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Burke / Sporting Omaha
- Grace Crockett (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Marian / Elite Girls Academy
- Marissa Gohr (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Elkhorn South / K-State / Elite Girls Academy
- Alyssa Hansen (Freshman) – Lincoln, NE – Pius / Elite Girls Academy
- Carly Cameron (R-Freshman) – Elkhorn, NE – Elkhorn
- Maria Eubanks (R-Freshman) – Lincoln, NE – Lincoln East / Elite Girls Academy
- Grace Thede (R-Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Marian / Sporting Omaha
- Regan Zimmers (R-Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Millard North / Sporting Omaha
- Madeline Smith (Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Millard South / Lake Tahoe CC / Gretna SC
- Laurin Mertz (Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Skutt / Gretna Soccer Club
- Mali Seran (R-Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Marian / Sporting Omaha
- Brylie Meyer (Junior) – Lincoln, NE – Pius / Elite Girls Academy
- Leah Kirchner (Junior) – Omaha, NE – Millard West / Central MO / Elite Girls Academy
- Andrea Daves, senior forward from Denver, CO, has tallied 5 goals and 2 assists on the season for a total of 12 points for the Mavericks. Daves has provided both goals and leadership for this young Maverick team.
- Margaret Lavigne, junior defender from St. Louis, MO, leads the Mavericks in minutes played and has been an ever present force in the Omaha backline this year.
Omaha was picked eighth in the Summit League preseason poll, and you can go back and see what our preview said about them as well. The Mavericks have answered the critics and then some, putting together a good regular season together. The Mavericks badly wanted to make the Summit League tournament, because no one wants to sit out of the tournament, especially as the hosts. Omaha has achieved that goal, and their next challenge is going to be not settling for just being a part of the tournament. They went to the final in 2018, and that is definitely possible for them to do again.
#4 University of South Dakota
Coach: Michael Thomas (3rd season)
- Maggie Pallesen (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Marian / Gretna Soccer Club
- Tatum Lundgren (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Burke / Gretna Soccer Club
- Tiannah Moore (Junior) – Lincoln, NE – Lincoln Northeast / Gretna Soccer Club
- Alexis Mitchell, Senior midfielder from Lee’s Summit, MO, has tallied 7 goals and 4 assists for a total of 18 points. Mitchell has scored 4 goals and tallied 2 assists in the last 4 games, and she is also the most recent Summit League Player of the Week.
- Abby Ostrem, Senior defender from Wylie, TX, has played and started in all 16 games for the Coyotes. Ostrem has also tallied 3 assists, and is part of a USD defense that has only conceded 3 goals in the last 7 games.
After dropping a 4-0 decision on March 19th at South Dakota State, the University of South Dakota Coyotes have gone on a run. They tied South Dakota State in the next game, and have not dropped a point since. They sealed their place as the fourth seed with a great run of four games, sweeping both North Dakota and North Dakota State and outsourcing their opponents 15-0. Coach Michael Thomas has done a great job since taking over at University of South Dakota 3 years ago, and he is hopeful that his squad can continue their run of form as they come up against Denver (where he spent 6 seasons as an assistant coach).
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