For a program looking to take "baby steps," Friday's outcome was successful on many fronts.
Not only did the University of South Dakota control the offensive tempo against a Division I opponent, the Coyotes also scored their first victory of the season and did so against a squad in their future conference home.
Propelled by a pair of first-half goals by freshman Jenny Teslow and a stingy defensive effort, USD defeated Missouri-Kansas City 2-0 on Friday in Vermillion.
The way first-year head coach Mandy Green assessed the performance, it was a positive step for a relatively young team.
"We're excited about the way we played," said Green, who inherited a program that won four games last fall. "We keep talking to the girls about improving on something every day, and it definitely feels great to get a win at home."
The victory was also USD's first against someone other than the University of North Dakota since October 2008, and the win against UMKC marked USD's first against a D-I opponent other than UND.
Of the 17 players who saw time on Friday, seven were freshmen and three were sophomores. And of USD's 10 total shots on goal, four came from freshmen – including the two goals by Teslow.
The Coyotes (1-1-1), who out-shot the Kangaroos of the Summit League 21-20, also controlled the game on defense, never allowing UMKC to get an easy look at the goal.
In the second half, UMKC missed a penalty kick and had another shot hit off the top of the post.
"The communication was really good out there," said Teslow, a Sioux Falls native. "We were in good position more than we had been before, so that was a good sign."
Teslow scored the first goal after a short breakaway at the 18:06 mark, and later, at the 26:13 mark, she scored on an assist by senior Katie Quinones.
"This is the first game we were able to put together as many chances as we did, so it was definitely encouraging to see the freshmen step up," Green said. "Just in the opportunities we gave ourselves was a big improvement. We're taking baby steps in the right direction."
As Green pointed out, the biggest area of continuing progression has been on defense. In its first three games of the season, USD has now allowed a total of one goal — that coming in a 1-1 double overtime tie at Summit League member Western Illinois last Sunday.
And in front of their own fans, the Coyotes saw their offense rise to the occasion.
"It felt really good to win on our own field, and finally score a couple goals," Teslow said. "The away games can be fun, but I'm glad we did this in front of our own crowd."
Friday's contest also marked the start of a six-game homestand that will see USD host IUPUI, Western Illinois, Creighton, Idaho and Eastern Washington in the next three weeks.
"Even though the road trips are fun and we get to see the personalities of all our players, we'll love being home for a while," Green said.
In all, USD will play six teams from the Summit League, the conference the Coyotes will join starting next season. Aside from the home games against UMKC,
IUPUI and Western Illinois, USD will play road games at South Dakota State (Sept. 22) and North Dakota State (Sept. 26).
"We can take each game at a time and see what we're playing against," Teslow said. "We'll see them (UMKC) again down the road, so it's good that we know we can do well against them."