South Dakota State women's women's opened its 2019 Summit League Championship, presented by U.S. Special Warfare run with a 1-0 victory over Oral Roberts Thursday night.
The Jackrabbits (15-4-1), who clinched a spot in Saturday's title game with the victory, blasted the Golden Eagles' defense all evening with 15 total shots, firing 10 on target.
Cecilia Limongi recorded her first-career score on the game's only goal, while Maya Hansen notched her third assist of the campaign. Leah Manuleleua had a team-high five shots (and three shots on goal) in the game.
Maggie Smither posted her 14th shutout of the season, recording two saves at keeper behind a defensive unit that saw Darien Poelstra, Gabby Vivier-Hannay, Rachel Preston and Kaitlin Zabel play all 90 minutes.
"I thought our team showed a lot of composure," head coach Brock Thompson said. "Oral Roberts had a great plan and they're a great team. Our team didn't panic, though, and especially in the second half our team created a lot of great chances. I'm proud of our team and excited for the opportunity to play in Saturday's final."
After a back-and-forth opening half sent the teams to the locker room in a scoreless draw, South Dakota State picked up the pace in the second half and put six shots on target in the final frame, but were unable to break through until the 70th minute.
Poelstra (ninth minute), Carina McLennan (54th minute) and Manuleleua (60th minute) were among a number of near-misses for the Jackrabbits in the contest. 10 minutes after Manuleleua's effort hit the left post, however, Limongi broke the stalemate at 69:09 when she put a one-touch goal off the low-cross assist from Hansen into the net.
ORU's pressure intensified after the goal, nearly finding the net in the 89th minute, but a Jackrabbit team save helped secure the win as State's defense held firm.
• South Dakota State is now 7-5-4 in the Summit League Championship.
• 15 victories ties a program-best mark for the Jackrabbits, previously set in 2008.
• Cecilia Limongi's first-career score came in game-winning fashion.
• Maggie Smither notched her second shutout in Summit League Championship games. She had one shutout (and one combined clean sheet) in 2016.
• SDSU is making its sixth appearance in the championship game.
South Dakota State and Denver face off in the Summit League Championship, presented by U.S. Air Force Special Warfare title game Saturday. Kickoff is at noon from Fishback Soccer Park.