In 2012, the Jackrabbits played a difficult non-conference schedule that featured schools from the Big Ten, Mountain West, SEC and Big 12. SDSU played both UNLV and Georgia, the lone ranked opponent on the schedule, for the first time in school history. The Jacks opened the season with a 2-0 win at Green Bay, but struggled to find goals in non-conference play. SDSU broke through for four goals in a shutout versus Northern Iowa two weeks prior to the start of Summit League play. SDSU lost its first three conference games by a combined three goals, one in double overtime and one in overtime, and tied its fourth. After the 0-3-1 start, the Jacks won four games in a row, including a 6-1 win in the season finale at Omaha. It was not enough to reach the postseason, however, as SDSU finished two points out of fourth place in the team standings.
Excellence Starts Here
When starting a new program, many schools will allow for a grace period before evaluating the success of that program. South Dakota State University did not have to wait long before it was able to start compiling a list of accomplishments that its lone women’s soccer coach, Lang Wedemeyer, has amassed in his nine-year tenure at South Dakota State University.
In 2008, Wedemeyer led the Jackrabbits to a 15-5-1 record in their first year of eligibility for Division I postseason play that included a trip to the NCAA College Cup. After winning the Summit League’s regular season title with a 7-1 record, the Jacks went on to win the conference tournament, earning them a trip to the College Cup.
Wedemeyer’s team drew 14th ranked and fourth seeded Colorado Buffaloes in the first round of the Cup in Minneapolis, Minn. The Jacks jumped on the board early and cruised to a 1-0 win. It marked the first NCAA postseason victory for SDSU and was also the first time a team from the Summit League won a game at the College Cup.
The win garnered national attention in the soccer world and created a buzz throughout SDSU and the state. For his efforts, Wedemeyer was selected at the Soccerbuzz.com runner-up coach of the year and was named the South Dakota Sports Writers Women’s College Coach of the Year at their annual banquet. That season he also coached six Summit League all-conference selections, two all-newcomer team selections, the Summit League’s Defensive Player of the Year and an Academic All-American along with numerous other athletic and academic honors.
In 2011, South Dakota
State earned its third regular season title in The Summit League, but
first outright title. The Jacks finished alone atop the standings with
an 8-0-1 record and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. The
lone tie in league play came against Oakland. The defense posted a consecutive scoreless minutes streak of 832:23, the 12th-longest streak in NCAA history. The streak spanned the entire conference schedule. As
a result of the previous year's regular season standings, Oakland
hosted the league tournament as the No. 4 seed. SDSU surrendered an
early goal and could not close the gap as its season ended in the
semifinals. The Jacks closed the season at 12-6-2.
From The Ground Up
Nine years ago, Wedemeyer started at SDSU with the task of building an NCAA Division II women’s soccer program. His first roster of 19 included just six women that had any collegiate experience, six freshmen, and a mix of seven others, including four that had played club soccer at SDSU in 1999. The roster was put together in just six months before the inexperienced Jackrabbit team took to the field for its inaugural season. In 2000, SDSU posted a 5-12-0 record, including a 1-8 record in the North Central Conference.
Youth Lead SDSU to Postseason Berth
The following season the Jacks welcomed a freshman class of 14 to its roster. Although the team was young in age, they were able to post the best record in SDSU history as Wedemeyer marched his second-year program into the North Central Conference’s four-team postseason tournament with a 13-6-1 record. For his efforts, Wedemeyer was named the North Central Conference Coach of the Year following his 2001 campaign.
After finishing the 2002 season with a 10-8-0 record, SDSU missed the postseason, struggling with a 2-6-0 record through the conference portion of its schedule.
In 2003, the Jacks rebounded with their third consecutive winning season. After posting an 8-5-6 overall record and a 2-2-3 record in NCC action, the Jacks were back in the postseason for the second time in three years. Behind the net-minding skills of senior Erin Miller, Wedemeyer’s team posted the fifth lowest goals-against average in Division II. Miller later became the first player in SDSU history to be named North Central Conference Player of the Year. She was also the first Jackrabbit soccer player to be named an All-American, earning second team honors.
SDSU Makes Transition to Division I
After leading the four-year-old program to a 36-31-7 record, South Dakota State decided to take its athletic department to the Division I level, leaving Wedemeyer with the task of recruiting players into a program that was not eligible for the NCAA postseason and was without a conference affiliate.
Wedemeyer accepted the challenge even though it came with its low points. The program returned to where it was just three years earlier, posting a 5-11-1 record during its first season at the Division I level. Although the wins were not rolling in as quickly any more, SDSU was making solid strides. The program faced 10 new opponents during the 2004 season and saw 11 Division I opponents. Five games into the season, the Jacks earned their first Division I win with a victory over Western Illinois, 2-0, at the Diadora Classic in Omaha, Neb., on Sept. 12.
In 2005, the team recorded another five-win season, posting a 5-12-1 record in its second year of Division I play. The Jacks recorded Division I victories over Northern Iowa, Montana and Murray State, while also holding Big 10 member Minnesota scoreless on Sept. 11.
Wedemeyer Leads Jacks to First Title
South Dakota State joined the United Soccer Conference for its 2006 campaign. After starting the season with wins over Northern Iowa and Northern Illinois, the Jacks were holding their heads high with a 3-1-1 record through five games. However, SDSU struggled through the middle portion of its schedule. The Jacks went 0-7-1 in their next eight games, scoring just one goal during that stretch. Four of those losses were by scores of 1-0 and the Jacks knew the season was not over yet.
Over the course of the final seven games of the season the Jacks posted a 5-1-1 record, which included a 2-0-1 record in the United Soccer Conference tournament to claim the USC championship. During SDSU’s three tournament games, goalkeepers Nicole Lograsso and Jenn Davis combined for three straight shutouts.
The conference tournament title was the first for SDSU at any level and especially a nice reward for Wedemeyer after starting a program from scratch and leading it to a Division I conference title.
A New Home For SDSU Athletics, Soccer The 2007 season marked the first year for SDSU as a member of The Summit League. In 2008, the Jacks become a full Division I member and eligible for NCAA postseason competition.
Outside of South Dakota State
In addition to starting the women’s soccer program at SDSU, Wedemeyer has also been involved in other aspects of the South Dakota and national soccer community. He is a National Soccer Coaches Association of America regional director, overseeing all the coaching certification in South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Colorado.
In the summer of 2002, Wedemeyer added another title to his list of coaching credentials as he served as a coach for the Olympic Development Program Region II teams in the 1987, 1990 and 1993 age group teams, taking them on trips to Germany and Holland. He recently coached the 1993 regional team against the Netherlands U15 and U17 national teams and the Belgium U17 national team. Lang will be the head coach of the 1993 team this year where he will take the team to Portugal this spring.
Wedemeyer worked extensively with the Olympic Development Program and coached Regional ODP teams. His teams defeated teams from all over the world, including teams from Holland, Belgium, Costa Rica and Ireland.
Prior to SDSU
Wedemeyer joined the SDSU staff in 2000 as the first coach in women’s soccer history. Before taking his current post, Wedemeyer was the director of coaching and women’s coordinator for the Roanoke Valley Youth Soccer Club. His three-year tenure as the club’s assistant executive director included overseeing all 28 teams and their coaches.
One of the youngest coaches in the United States to obtain all levels of coaching certification, Wedemeyer 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, Wedemeyer served as an assistant coach for the men’s soccer program. In addition, his coaching experience consists of appearances at several soccer camps and clinics, including serving as head counselor of the University of North Carolina Women’s Soccer Camp since 1995.
Wedemeyer began his collegiate playing career at Virginia Tech University, where he was voted the ‘Hokies best defensive player 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 played seven years of professional soccer in the United Soccer League after his career at Old Dominion.