Published Jun 8, 2024

Written By: Jenny Ellis
Photography: Travis Gallipo


Sioux Falls City FC's Dominant Triumph Over Minnesota Thunder


Development and winning, two key principles in Sioux Falls City FC’s training mentality and season vision. These cornerstones of the club boil its WPSL mission down to each player's “why.”

Sioux Falls City FC’s Head Coach, Joseph DeMay, explained how his players utilize the WPSL season to both triumph and hone in on game skills, acting as an outlet in the NCAA’s off-season for players to stay fit and get touches on the ball. 

“Two things can be true. I don't think it's an either/or situation. I think we can do both things [win games and develop players],” DeMay said.


“Every single player has their own individual why for the summer – they want to go back to the fall and win. So if you take the summer and you don't have a winning mentality, are you optimally preparing for the fall? We want to win and we want to develop, I don't think those things have to be mutually exclusive.”


Sioux Falls City FC host Minnesota Thunder in Central Region Match of the Week (Travis Gallipo)

Sioux Falls put these principles on full display in its third game of the season in the Central Region’s Match of the Week on Friday night as it hosted Minnesota Thunder at the Bob Young Field.

The two teams took to the field with Sioux Falls looking for redemption and Thunder trying for a repeat victory from last year's game that resulted in a slanted 3-1 scoreline at Thunder’s home pitch.

Last year, Sioux Falls ended third in the conference, finishing behind Minnesota Thunder at first and Salvo SC following up in second.

“Last year, we started a little slowly. We drew with Salvo at their place. The way we looked at it, that was a good result to start the season. And then, a little bit of a disappointing draw in the second match that kind of put us behind the ball. We had to be kind of perfect the rest of the year. We knew we were close last year, so it's just a case of continuing to build,” DeMay said. 

This year, Sioux Falls has been working to better prepare for its 2024 campaign, hoping to further advance its final standing in the Northern Conference.

The team had three weeks of training before the season kicked off, beginning on May 6th and lasting up until Memorial Day weekend, with two preseason games helping the players ready themselves for real competition in high stake game environments. 

“We had a strategy for us to just play games and iron out some things that are more challenging to do in a training environment,” DeMay said. “That's the most realistic thing you can do, as opposed to training, where the two teams kind of know each other and have an idea what the other one's trying to do.” 

These training sessions and matches seem to have assisted Sioux Falls in its regular season games as it entered Week 5 of the Northern Conference standings in first place, ahead of both Thunder and Salvo.

This Friday was yet another chance for Sioux Falls to prove it’s a force to be reckoned with this season, playing last year's defending Conference champions. 

“We're kind of the underdogs, and we've got to prove that we can do more than just compete with them [Minnesota Thunder] like we have the past two years, we actually have to go get a result,” DeMay said.

“I think we have some things in our favor, but I think they have a lot of talent, and they've found a way to beat us the past two years. So I would say, generally, they're the ones who are probably the favorite going to the match. So our job is to figure out a way to finally get past them.”

Sioux Falls City FC host Minnesota Thunder in Central Region Match of the Week (Travis Gallipo)

Sioux Falls rose to this challenge, dominating the field in a 2-0 victory. 

The match kicked off with Sioux Falls City competing against not only its opposition, Minnesota Thunder, but also strong winds. 

Thunder, with the gusts at its back, utilized its advantage to send long balls to its forwards deep in Sioux Falls’ defending half. Despite this strategy, these 50/50, airborne balls often amounted to little in the attacking third.

Sioux Falls, forced to adapt to fighting against the wind, favored combination passing and effective first touches forward. This, paired with players ability to press and recover the ball quickly when it was lost, allowed them to control the tempo of the match from the first whistle.

Both teams showed strong attacking intent throughout the first half, with possession being evenly split throughout each third of the field. 

Thunder employed a high press early in the match, aiming to disrupt Sioux Falls’ strong build-up play. But, Sioux Falls’ energy and positional organization was difficult to defend.

The breakthrough came in the 36’ minute when Sioux Falls’ Rebecca Storr delivered a cross from the left flank, which was initially parried away by Minnesota Thunder’s goalkeeper, Chloe Sandness. 

Unfortunately for Thunder, the back line failed to clear the loose ball and left it open for Yui Fujii to pounce and score, putting Sioux Falls ahead just before halftime.

In the second half, with the wind advantage shifting and energized by its late goal in the first half,  Sioux Falls took full control of the match – pressing Thunder high on the field and winning the majority of 50/50 balls played forward from Thunders’s back line. 


Sioux Falls City FC host Minnesota Thunder in Central Region Match of the Week (Travis Gallipo)

Its dominance paid off again in the 59’ minute when a free kick by Mo Malone sent the ball into the box, where a miscommunication between the Thunder defense and its goalkeeper allowed Mia Mullenmeister, Central Region Player of the Week from Week 4, to capitalize on the unclaimed ball, netting Sioux Falls' second goal.

Falling behind by two cemented Sioux Falls' control over the match and extinguished any substantial response from Thunder. 

With only two out-field substitutes, an exhausted Thunder eleven were kept on their heels by a fired up Sioux Falls for the remainder of the game. 

Once the final whistle blew, Sioux Falls confidently walked away with a win. Although fatigue on Thunder’s part surely impacted its performance, as the team had to play Salvo SC on Wednesday, June 5th – a mere 48 hours before this match up – Sioux falls showed its ability to adapt to the conditions and maintain high energy throughout the game. 

The strategic pressing, combined with effective use of set pieces and sharp finishing, displayed the products of Sioux Falls’ collective ‘why’ ensured a well-deserved 2-0 victory over Minnesota Thunder.