Coyotes hold off Eastern Washington

Faced with the prospect of not playing at home for five weeks, the University of South Dakota soccer team made sure it left on a solid note.

Not to mention, a winning note.

The Coyotes used a pair of goals from its group of budding underclassmen and held off a late rally to upend Eastern Washington 2-1 on Friday afternoon in Vermillion.

It marked the end of a six-game homestand for the Coyotes (3-4-1), who don't play at home again until Oct. 22.

Further showcasing their significant improvement from 2009, the Coyotes avenged a 5-1 setback to Eastern Washington, which competes in the Big Sky Conference.

"I don't think they came in expecting something like this," said USD senior defender Erika Menning. "They took it to us last year, and maybe they thought they could do it again.

"But this is a different team; we're playing much better."

In a game that spanned 90 minutes, it was the first five minutes and the last 10 that proved to be the most exciting.

USD got on the scoreboard just 5:05 into the game, when sophomore Rachel Greene connected on a pass from freshman Jenny Teslow.

"I've been trying for that goal for the last two years, so it was exciting," Greene said. "I think getting that one so early really relaxed us."

The game stayed 1-0 until halftime, and shortly after, the Coyotes scored again.

Teslow, this week's Great West Conference Offensive Player of the Week, broke free and connected on a long shot at the 54:02 mark. Her team-leading sixth goal of the season gave USD some breathing room.

"In soccer, the toughest lead to defend is 2-0; I've always thought that," first-year head coach Mandy Green said. "We were nervous about that, but the fact that we got up two goals wasn't something we're familiar with.

"It's just another situation for us to learn from."

As was the case over the final 10 minutes.

After having two near goals deflected away by Coyote defenders, the winless Eagles (0-5-1) found the back of the net at the 78:51 mark on a goal by Whitney Brannan.

From there, EWU came to life, as it stepped up its offensive pressure and seemed to be fueled by the support of its cheering bench.

The high-energy pace nearly paid off as an Eagles' shot with five minutes left was saved on a sprawling dive by USD goalkeeper Jen Ogren.

The Coyotes were able to fend off a corner kick with 40 seconds left to secure the victory – which brings them within one of last year's total (4).

"It was frantic for a while, but I think we regained our composure," Menning said. "We did what we needed to do. Hopefully we don't get into that habit of letting people back into games."

Added Greene, "I was a little nervous there for a while, and we were on our heels, but we held tough."

That final corner kick, which was ruled to have sailed around and then into the net, fueled a furious reaction from EWU's coaching staff. Even as the final horn sounded, head coach George Hageage was jawing at the refs – who eventually gave him a red card.

As the dust settled, the Coyotes escaped with the win.

"They were throwing everything at us out there," coach Green said. "That's a desperate team. They haven't won yet and they were close a couple of times to tying it up on us."

"(Friday) was one of our best full games; we're getting closer to our ability," Greene said. "We've been almost over-thinking everything, but we had more of a calm attitude.
"We just need more of that."

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