Lang Wedemeyer has become synonymous with women’s soccer at South Dakota State. Entering his 15th year at the helm of the program he built, Wedemeyer will try to guide his talented young Jackrabbits back to NCAA postseason play and set some personal records along the way.
Last season, SDSU rebounded from a trying 2012 campaign by finishing second in the Summit League and posting a 11-5-2 record. While the Jackrabbits endured a rash of injuries, they returned to their winning ways thanks to the contributions of freshmen like Nicole Inskeep, who started every game in net and tied the single-season program record for shutouts. Eight Jackrabbits were honored by the Summit League at the end of the season, with Caylee Costello and Dani Patterson headlining the group by earning spots on the first team.
SDSU will face stiff competition for the 2014 Summit League crown, with nationally-ranked Denver looking to defend its title, but will be groomed for conference play by taking on a series of tough opponents, notably Creighton, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Wedemeyer will have the chance to capture his 100th victory at the Division I level, as he currently sits six wins shy of the milestone.
Building a Winning Tradition
SDSU did not have to wait long for its women’s soccer team to start racking up wins, titles and honors under Wedemeyer’s watch.
In just 14 years, Wedemeyer built a Division II soccer program from scratch and led his team through its transition to Division I play. In their fifth season at the DI level, the Jackrabbits earned their first trip to the NCAA tournament. There, they recorded their first NCAA postseason victory, a 1-0 upset of No. 14 Colorado. Since then, SDSU has reached the double digits in wins four of the past five seasons and missed the postseason just once.
From The Ground Up
In 2000, Wedemeyer launched a Division II women’s soccer program at SDSU with a roster of 19 players, just six of whom had previous collegiate experience. The roster also included six freshmen and four women who had played club soccer at SDSU in 1999. The roster was put together in just six months before the team took the field. SDSU posted a 5-12-0 record in its inaugural season. The team went 1-8-0 in the North Central Conference.
Youth Leads SDSU to Postseason Berth
The following season, Wedemeyer welcomed a freshman class of 14 to SDSU. Even though they were young and relatively inexperienced, the Jackrabbits posted their first winning season en route to earning their first berth in the NCC’s four-team tournament. For his efforts, Wedemeyer was named the 2001 NCC Coach of the Year.
In 2003, Wedemeyer had his first player earn All-American honors. Senior Erin Miller posted a .915 save percentage and a 0.51 GAA, program records that still stand to this day. For her efforts, Miller was named the NCC Player of the Year and was honored as a second-team All-American.
SDSU Makes Transition to Division I
When South Dakota State decided to take its athletic department to the Division I level, Wedemeyer was left with the unenviable task of recruiting players into a program that was not eligible for the NCAA postseason and did not have a conference affiliation.
Wedemeyer accepted the challenge even though it came with low points. The program returned to where it was three years earlier, posting a 5-11-1 record during its first season at the DI level in 2004. The season, the Jackrabbits faced 11 DI opponents. On Sept. 12, they earned their first DI win, defeating Western Illinois, 2-0, at the Diadora Classic in Omaha, Neb. In 2005, the Jackrabbits endured another five-win season but made positive strides, recording wins over DI foes Northern Iowa, Montana and Murray State and holding Big Ten member Minnesota scoreless on Sept. 11.
Wedemeyer Leads Jacks to First Title
SDSU joined the United Soccer Conference for its 2006 campaign. Through their first five games, the Jackrabbits posted a 3-1-1 record. But the team went 0-7-1 in its next eight games, scoring just one goal over that stretch. Four of those losses were by scores of 1-0. The Jackrabbits did not lose confidence in themselves and ran off a 5-1-1 record to close the season. In the USC tournament, goalkeepers Nicole Lograsso and Jenn Davis combined for three straight shutouts to lead the Jackrabbits to their first conference tournament title at any level.
NCAA College Cup Contender
The 2007 season marked the first year for SDSU as a member of The Summit League. In 2008, the Jackrabbits became a full Division I member, meaning they were finally eligible for NCAA postseason competition.
And, in its first season of eligibility, Wedemeyer put his team in position to earn its first NCAA tournament berth. After winning the Summit League regular season title with a 7-1-0 record, the Jackrabbits won the conference tournament, earning them a trip to the NCAA College Cup.
In the first round, Wedemeyer’s team pulled off its biggest upset in program history, taking down No. 14, fourth-seeded Colorado, 1-0. The win generated national attention and buzz throughout South Dakota, culminating in Wedemeyer being tabbed as the Soccerbuzz.com runner-up coach of the year and the South Dakota Sports Writers Women’s College Coach of the Year.
That season, Wedemeyer coached six Summit League all-conference selections, two all-newcomer team members, the Summit League’s Defensive Player of the Year and an Academic All-American.
Outside of South Dakota State
Wedemeyer’s involvement in soccer is not limited to SDSU. He serves as a National Soccer Coaches Association of America National Staff Coach and has traveled the country conducting coaching certification and running clinics over the past ten years.
In the summer of 2002, Wedemeyer added another title to his list of coaching credentials. He served as a coach for the Olympic Development Program Region II teams in the 1987, 1990 and 1993 age groups, taking them on trips to Germany and Holland. In March 2010, he took the 1993 team to the Women’s International Algarve Tournament in Portugal. The team beat Ireland’s U-17 National team, Sevilla’s women’s professional team and the women’s professional team from Benfica, Portugal. This team also beat Costa Rica’s U-20 National team, which played in the U-20 2010 World Cup in Germany.
Before taking his current post, Wedemeyer was the director of coaching and women’s coordinator for the Roanoke Valley Youth Soccer Club. During his three-year tenure as the club’s assistant executive director, he oversaw all 28 teams and their coaches.
One of the youngest coaches in America to obtain all levels of coaching certification, he holds nine professional soccer coaching licenses, including a United State Soccer Federation “A” license and the NSCAA Premier diploma.
While working on his master’s degree at Old Dominion, he served as an assistant coach for the men’s soccer team.
Wedemeyer began his collegiate career at Virginia Tech University, where he was voted as the ‘Hokies best defensive player for two years in a row. He later transferred to Old Dominion University (Va.), where he captained the team and earned second-team academic All-America honors in 1994.
Wedemeyer also has extensive professional experience in the United Soccer Leagues. He played three years for his hometown Roanoke Wrath before joining the Sioux Falls Spitfire at the beginning of the team’s first season in 2001