Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023
MN Revontulet Supporters, holding soccer scarves and flags

Fri. June 24, 2022

Title IX turned 50 on Thursday. On June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed the Education Amendments of 1972 into law. One part of these laws was Title IX, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex in education. Title IX helped increase women’s participation in sports at the high school and collegiate levels. Without Title IX, would there be a MN Aurora? Would there be a USL W League? Most likely yes — but the opportunities for the coaches and players would be fewer, and the talent levels would be lower.

At US Bank Stadium this week, the Green Sports Alliance held their first in-person summit since 2019. To coincide with the 50th anniversary of Title IX, on Wed. June 22, MN Aurora FC President Andrea Yoch joined USL Super League / USL W League President Amanda Vandervort on a panel “ROI of Investing in Women and Why This Matters.” 

Two days later, at the MN Aurora match against the Chicago Dutch Lions, the honorary coin flip was performed by a stadium security staff member. She had played club soccer at University of Michigan before Title IX was in place.

Tekkers or Trekkers?

The Chicago Dutch Lions are the last Heartland division opponent that MN Aurora hasn’t faced. Did you know that the “Dutch Lions” organization goes back to 2009 with the famed Dayton Dutch Lions (OH)? There are nine Dutch Lions programs across the United States. Does this sound the Borg in Star Trek — a collective trying to assimilate others into their way of perfection? Did you know that the Chicago Dutch Lions are the 7th of 9 Dutch Lions programs?

used with the club’s permission

Formations: “State Your Intentions” – Seven of Nine to Naomi Wildman

Nicole Lukic started Aurora in her preferred 4-2-3-1 with their preferred Starting XI. There are no surprises here. Christina Murillo started the Chicago Dutch Lions in 4-1-4-1 sliding center back Rachel Suarez into a defensive midfield role. 

But these were more attacking formations. In defense, MN Aurora like to defend in a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 depending on how many of the front 4 track back to the midfield. The Dutch Lions however would defend in a stout 4-5-1. These defensive formations clogged the midfield with lots of turnovers for both teams.

When an Aurora player would receive the ball, often she would be defended or contained by 1, 2, 3, or 4 Dutch Lions players. This inhibited Aurora’s short passes through the midfield.


Saves, Blocks, Clearances: “Not all drones can be saved, Captain” – Seven of Nine to Captain Janeway

Not all shots can be saved either, but Dutch Lion goalkeeper Molly FIsher had 10 saves on the night. Captain Sarah Hagg, her center back partner Savannah Laren, and defensive midfield Rachel Suarez had many blocks, clearances, dribbles out of the defensive third. Suarez also had at least 2 clearances off the line.

Right wing and second-half sub Jill Bennett had this to say about trying to get through that Dutch Lions’ defense: “They were really good trying to make us play the obvious passes. Initially, I think they were baiting us on some balls in the air over the top that they’re really good at reading. So once we calmed down and tried to find our passes, that’s where we’re successful. But they were really good at trying to get us to play into what they wanted. Really good back line — they were very fun to play against.”

Aurora GK Sarah Fuller had to make saves as well, including a leaping tip over the cross bar and this dive. [photo used with club’s permission]

“Their plans for conquest are irrelevant.” – Seven of Nine
“They’re a resourceful species, determined; they’ll adapt.” – Captain Janeway

Aurora attempted to solve the midfield clutter with long passes over the middle to hit Cha or Hansen directly. However, Dutch Lions center backs were usually there. Aurora adapted and long passed over the flanks complete with dummy runs or alternate shorter-passing options to the middle. While all back 6 players started doing this well, Rachel Preston was consistently hitting Zbiljic, Bennett, Cha, or Hansen down the right hand side.

In addition the errant crosses from Aurora’s previous weekend were almost absent. Corner kicks and crosses avoided going out the end line or into the goalkeeper’s hands. 

Coach Lukic: “We scored on some different opportunities that we had in the past a lot of crossing, you know, one-touch finishes in the box, which is really nice. Mariah’s nickname is “the ninja,” and she just kind of came flying in there and put it away and very exciting moment for her.”


Highlights: “Fun will now commence” – Seven of Nine

Early in the game, a long ball over the right side was headed down by Jelena Zbiljic to Makenzie Langdok. Landok sent in a cross to the far side and Mariah Nguyen ninja-kicks it into the net. The Aurora performed a “reeling in Mariah the fish” goal celebration, perhaps a nod both Minnesotan and Vietnamese traditions.

Then right before the water break, the Dutch Lions winger Piper Biziorek, who has scored 3 goals this season, made an invasive dribble and nice through ball striker Katharine Stephens. Stephens shoots low past Sarah Fuller, and we’re tied 1-1.

In the 48′ MN Aurora with another long ball from Rachel Preston progresses into a pretty passing play. Pshaw, a premature push past Chicago’s posterior means Cat Rapp was offside.

In the 55′ Cat Rapp would be onside for the go-ahead goal. Both Cat Rapp and Jill Bennett were subbed in at half time and contribute off this Symonds corner kick.

In the 82′ Arianna Del Moral, 7 minutes after subbing on, gets her first of the season. Jill Bennett, whose birthday was Thursday, gets her second assist of the night and third on the season.

MN Aurora continue their unbeaten streak and win 3-1. Regarding the Dutch Lions performance, coach Christina Murillo said, “I think what our team tends to do is they’re very good on the transition and capitalizing on opportunities. Unfortunately, there were a few times in the second half where we weren’t able to do it, and we lost possession too easily.”

Aurora set an new attendance record of 6,016. Aurora coach Nicole Lukic remarked, “It’s really fun. We’re all really just trying to enjoy each moment. Every night’s different. The fans tonight were incredible, the chants. We really feel lucky to compete here in front of a community that really supports us.”

“Seven, please state the nature of the medical emergency.”
– The Doctor
“I have a date.” – Seven of Nine

The Borg — rather the Chicago Dutch Lions on Monday host Green Bay Glory.

MN Aurora are back in action this Sunday at 12 PM attempting to tame a different den of Lions from St. Louis. Hey, do you know what one calls a group of Lions?

Pride: ” ‘Impossible’ is a word that humans use far too often.” – Seven of Nine

This weekend is Pride weekend in the twin cities metro. On my way from the press box to the field to conduct interviews, I ran into Business Operations Coordinator Whitney Daleiden. What does Pride mean for her?

“For me personally, it’s it’s more about remembering all the sacrifices that people before me have made for the community. And all that good stuff [about Aurora] making sure that our players feel safe here and welcome no matter how they identify, all the way up to our staff and our board, our community members, everything like that.” – Whitney Daleiden

Kristelle Yewah sporting the Pride tank featuring a rainbow Aurora crest with the intersect stripes for minority (black/brown) and trans (pink and blue) — used with the club’s permission

The Pride tank tops have sold out from the online store. You can still get Pride scarves.

All profits from Pride merchandise benefit RECLAIM! Will there be more tank tops available in person this Sunday? Come and find out.

By Matthew Johnson

Matthew "MJ" Johnson is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis. In 2007, he discovered UEFA Champions League. His complex spreadsheets went from college football bowl season to European club soccer, and his fandom soon followed. In 2011, a friend Wes made the mistake of inviting him to an NSC Minnesota Stars game, where he fell in love with local soccer. Matthew co-hosts The Daves I Know podcast and occasionally guest hosts the MN Fútbol Show. When not playing broomball or watching soccer, he repairs bicycles and sharpens knives for money but fuses cuisines for fun. Follow Matthew on Twitter @mjmattsui

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