The IUPUI women’s soccer team battled the University of South Dakota Coyotes Saturday night at Michael A. Carroll Stadium in its first Summit League match of the season, winning 2-0 in the rain.
The Jaguars had a familiar face back in the lineup with junior Krissy Kirkhoff returning from a sprained ankle suffered on Aug. 21 at Ball State. Kirkhoff was eased back into game action with 56 minutes on the field, but she’s already making her presence felt.
The Coyotes were called for a handball inside the box in the 49th minute, giving IUPUI a penalty kick. It was Kirkhoff who took the shot and delivered, beating the outstretched goalkeeper to the right bottom corner.
“I stepped up pretty quick to that one,” said Kirkhoff. “It felt really good to get one.”
Head coach Chris Johnson enjoyed finally having one of his stars back in the lineup.
“I was happy to have Krissy back because she’s led us in scoring the last couple years,” said Johnson, “and she set the single-season assist record last year that Maryna (Clark) has tied.”
The single-season assist record, at eight, is an accomplishment Clark, who’s ranked No. 5 in Division I with .73 assists per game, could have staked her name solely to on Saturday night, but she wasn’t available. Clark, who’s dealing with plantar fasciitis, hopes to be able to practice on Saturday and be ready for IUPUI’s match against Denver on Sunday.
Even without their assist leader, the Jaguars were never lacking on offense.
“I think we did well,” said senior defender Maddie Riedford. “Obviously she’s great outside and we love to utilize her, but I think some people stepped up today, and it was really great to see that.”
Clark didn’t take issue with Riedford’s assessment.
“They don’t need me out there,” she said laughing.
Sunday’s match might be the first time in a while that IUPUI could have Clark and Kirkhoff on the field together again, something Johnson is looking forward to.
“Having Chrissy back definitely softened the blow,” said Johnson, “but it would be great to have both of them at the same time for sure.”
Aside from missing their leader in assists, the Jaguars also had to deal with a steady rainfall for most of the game, which produced a fair number of missteps and collisions.
“Especially (with it being) my first game back,” said Kirkhoff, “it was a little difficult. The ball skipped quite a bit.”
Counting Friday night, the IUPUI defense has forced four shutouts this season. The Coyotes were only averaging .45 goals per game (No. 317 in Division I) and 9.2 shots per game, but they moved the ball well in the first half and put three shots on goal.
In the 38th minute South Dakota got a corner kick, which resulted in back-to-back shots on goal in a chaotic scramble in the box. The first shot got by junior goalkeeper Catherine Schmidt, but sophomore Hannah March was stationed on the left post and deflected it away. The second shot was fired almost immediately after but didn’t get through the huddle of white uniforms.
Shortly after the exchange, South Dakota forward Taryn LaBree got a shot off from about 20 yards away and straight on. It was a routine save for Schmidt, but that was part of an aggressive theme for the Coyotes.
IUPUI also had its share of quality possessions and good looks on goal, but unlike South Dakota, the Jaguars cashed one in.
IUPUI received one of its four first-half corner kicks in the 22nd minute. Senior Alyssa Fox took it from the left side and drilled the ball to junior Leia Peterman, standing about 12 yards out. Peterman headed the ball sharply up to sophomore Braegan Lyon, who headed the ball in from a few yards out on the right side.
Coach Johnson said the ball played faster than normal on the wet turf, but his game plan didn’t change.
“We knew that they were going to be a very tight, compact, defensive team,” said Johnson, “and our goal was to try to win the ball and switch it to the opposite side of the field because we thought we’d have players open on the opposite side of the field.”
Two goals scored and a shutout testified for Johnson.
The Jaguars’ first conference match comes after a 6-4-1 mark posted in non-conference play. IUPUI moved to 5-0 on the season at home with this win.
IUPUI will play Denver on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Michael A. Carroll Stadium.