By Jeremy Hoeck
As she kicked a shot toward the left corner of the goal, Lauren Bennett slipped to the ground and stayed their to celebrate as she watched the ball hit the net.
It took a cold and rainy day for the USD soccer team to finally break through on offense.
After five games — and nearly 460 minutes — without a goal, the Coyotes scored three in a 10-minute span and pitched a 3-0 shutout over Western Illinois on Friday afternoon in Vermillion.
“It was amazing, said Bennett, a junior, whose goal off a free kick in the 66th minute kick-started the 10-minute barrage for the Coyotes.
“Maybe that was our breakthrough.”
It had been a long time coming for USD (6-8-3, 1-5), which had been held scoreless since a 3-2 overtime loss to Drake back on Sept. 26. Since then, the Coyotes lost their first five Summit League games to fall out of tournament contention.
“We joked about that when we scored the first one, we would celebrate like we won the World Cup, and you saw that,” USD head coach Mandy Green said. “To finally get a goal, it’s good.”
So good, the Coyotes did it twice more.
Freshman Jamie Karch recorded her team-leading seventh goal of an assist from Teagan Eberle in the 69th minute to push USD’s lead to 2-0. Seven minutes later, sophomore Elena Tsakakis fought through a scrum to score a goal in the 76th minute.
That was all sophomore goalkeeper Mackenzie Viktor needed. She recorded four saves in net to preserve a shutout that was aided by an all-around strong defensive effort, Bennett said.
“We just played really connected; played our game,” she said. “Our center backs did a good job staying organized.”
Both teams did their best to fight through wet conditions — each half saw a brief rainstorm roll through Vermillion.
“It felt like we went through all four seasons today. Very weird weather,” Green said. “I’m very proud of the girls, that was a good team. They (WIU) were a top four team in the conference last year.”
The Coyotes close out their season Sunday at noon against IUPUI in Vermillion.
“We just want to come out, stay connected with our defense and get another win,” Bennett said. “Two wins in conference, that would be prime.”
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