An early goal by the South Dakota State was not enough, as Nebraska stormed back with a flurry of goals to win 8-1.
Junior forward Courtney Higgins got the Jackrabbits on the board early, scoring 3:42 into the game. Senior forward Kayla Braffet drove deep into the defensive zone before crossing the ball past the keeper to an unmarked Higgins.
The lead did not hold, however, as one and one-half minutes later, Nebraska scored its first of three first-period goals.
The Jacks did not threaten again in the first half.
The Cornhuskers led at halftime 3-1.
The second half was more of the same from Nebraska, who scored 12:36 into the half.
The Jacks defense held for a while, but the Cornhuskers flooded the box midway through the half, scoring three goals in a span of two minutes and 50 seconds.
Nebraska added its last goal with six seconds remaining in the game, making the final score 8-1.
Despite the outcome, the effort and the atmosphere of the game encouraged head coach Lang Wedemeyer.
“I think it was great,” Wedemeyer said. “I think this was exactly the type of environment we needed in the preseason. We needed to play a team that was going to take us out of our comfort zone and Nebraska certainly did that. We were able to give a lot of players minutes tonight and we introduced [our players] to the level that we aspire to get to. When you look at it from that environment it was fantastic. It also gives us a good base to build from. We know we have a lot of work to do.”
Many young players saw the field for the South Dakota State, including sophomore transfer Megan Kingston, who started the game for the Jacks. Kingston transferred from Nebraska-Omaha after one and one-half years.
The Jackrabbits are going to use this game as a teaching tool to help them work over the next week in preparation for the Creighton Bluejays.
“We will break down the film and look at some things individually,” said Wedemeyer. “I think we were lazy in our defending at times tonight. We certainly created some chances and were dangerous on counterattacks. Some of our decisions on collective defending and attacking were a little bit slow. You could tell [Nebraska] was sharp and had a scrimmage under their belt and talented players; they took advantage of that indecision.”
As far as the support, the team and coaches were thrilled by the enthusiasm for the upcoming season.
“We had a great crowd,” Wedemeyer said. “We hope that people will come back so that they see a different team on Friday against Creighton.”
South Dakota State returns to action on Friday, Aug. 19, in its regular season and home opener against the Creighton Bluejays. Game time is set for 6 p.m. at Fishback Soccer Park. The game will serve as Creighton’s regular season opener, as well.