Makenzie Langdok and Captain Kelsey Kaufusi hold up fingers in shape of Ws for Aurora’s seventh win – courtesy of Daniel Mick
On Wednesday, June 14, Minnesota Aurora were supposed to host rival Green Bay Glory at TCO Stadium. The club was excited for a sold-out match. Sadly, the game needed to be moved indoors to St. Croix Valley Recreation Center in Stillwater. Despite the different venue without fans, Aurora beat Green Bay 5-0 to remain undefeated at 7-0-0.
“The Anti-Pleasure Dissertation”
Due to Quebec wildfires, low pressure systems, and wind, air pollution traveled from Canada over to Minnesota. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued an Air Quality Alert on Tuesday. The particulate readings from the MPCA sensors indicated an Air Quality Index (AQI) of above 250. The Pioneer Press reported that Minnesota experienced “worst in nation” air quality on Wednesday.
By Wednesday afternoon, the AQI readings were getting worse and worse. Aurora were faced with a difficult situation. Fortunately for the compact USL W League schedule, Aurora found an indoor location, and fortunately for fans, the Eagan TV crew and Fox 9+ were able to broadcast the game on television and youtube.
“Rebel Girl” – For The W
Last year and this year, Aurora and Green Bay are the only two independent USL W Heartland Division clubs: neither are off-shoots of men’s clubs. They both have women leading their coaching staffs and front offices. In 2022, Green Bay Glory bookended the Aurora regular season schedule. Fairly or unfairly, Green Bay also served as a measuring stick for Aurora’s progress in their inaugural season. From the 1-1 draw when Aurora were the new kids on the block to the two games in Green Bay to close the regular season, Green Bay Glory were both Aurora’s strongest opponent in 2022 and the victim of three new Aurora’s records: fastest goal (Morgan Turner, 42 seconds), first hat trick (Morgan Turner), and first 5-goal game.
“Alien She” – That Weird 3-6-1 Formation Again
Coach Nicole Lukic opts for the exact same line up as in Chicago last Sunday. Her 3-2-4-1, or as Lukic says, “3-6-1” can resemble a 3-4-3 or 5-4-1 in defense. This gives Aurora the ability to press with as few as three and as many as seven players.
The entire team has adapted to the new formation. It starts with goalkeeper Amanda Poorbaugh and her back three’s positions and adjustments depending on where the ball is. Like much of 2022, Addy Weichers and Morgan Stone now feature as a two-woman center midfield to defend the central channel as well as aid in the attack.
Most impressive is how this formation is both more liberating and more demanding of wings Mariah Nguyen and Makenzie Langdok. Both have space along the sides to be creative with their dribbles. However, both track back with awareness that this 3-6-1 lacks fullbacks. Nguyen’s defensive hustle and marking seem more intense in this formation.
Makenzie Langdok thrives in this new formation. Her creativity and risk-taking are now further up the pitch, which yielded the first goal in Chicago. While Langdok has goals and assists from the fullback position for Aurora and the University of Minnesota, she used to be a forward. For St. Michael-Albertville High School, Landok led the Knights in scoring with 28 goals and 12 assists in her senior year. This led her to win Minnesota Ms. Soccer in Class 2A amidst an impressive list of five finalist, which included Wayzata and former Aurora goal machine Morgan Turner. Langdok moving forward to attack more seems to help Aurora go forward too.
All this at the back, midfield, and flanks allows the central attack trio of Hannah Adler, Cat Rapp, and Maya Hannsen space to create close to the net. This formation yielded a 1-3 win in windy, rainy Chicago. How would it do indoors?
Coach Linda Vance often sets Glory up in a 4-3-3 but goes with a 4-2-3-1 versus Aurora. Glory have several key players returning from that successful 2022 season including the entire starting back line: LFB Kristina Jazdzewski, LCB Brianna Morrissey, RCB Alyssa Mericle, and RFB Maya Alberts.
Also, returning are impressive CAM Carolina Gomes with two goals on the season and forward Skylar Prentice who led the team with five goals in 2022, currently leading the Glory with three goals in 2023.
Notable newcomers are two starters: RW Brenna Musser with two goals and F Rachel Janes with one goal. With goalkeeper Mallory Kerhin suffering an ACL tear in last week’s game hosting Chicago City, GK Larissa Likes steps in net, who is going into her junior year at Fon du Lac High School.
“Rah! Rah! Replica!”
Last year in Green Bay, Morgan Turner scored Aurora’s fastest goal only 42 seconds into the game. This Wednesday, Aurora beat that record. After several possessing passes along the back, CB Tianna Harris passes up to Weichers who passes out of a triple team to Morgan Stone. Stone hits a perfect long ball over the top to RW Langdok, who feeds a hungry Adler at the goal mouth. 33 seconds is all it took for Aurora to get on the board.
I may be the only one reporting “33 seconds” but the proof is on the stream here — unless the stream’s clock was not accurate.
In the 26th minute, Langdok cuts into the middle and passes straight forward to Cat Rapp who splits two Glory players for Aurora’s third goal. For those not keeping track, Langdok now has two assists on the night, and Cat Rapp has a brace.
“New Radio” – Substitutions
At the start of the second half, Aurora substitute in midfielder Rami Rapp for Weichers, Sophie French at striker for Hansen, and RB Kylie Olsen for Harris. RB Kelsey Kaufusi takes over Harris’ center back role.
Kylie Olsen would have an immediate impact. In the 48th minute, LB Abby Ostrem sends a long ball over the top to Cat Rapp who passes over to Olsen for the goal. Aurora now lead 4-0.
“Get Out” – Poorbaugh Save
After a foul just outside the left corner of the box, Green Bay earn a free kick. Outstanding player Carolina Gomes has two goals on the year, and she hits a hard shot over Aurora’s two-player wall. The ball heads for the upper middle of the goal, but GK Amanda Poorbaugh leaps up to make the save.
“R.I.P.” – Game Has To End Somehow
In the 62nd minute, Aurora substitute wing Jelena Zbilijic for Nguyen, midfielder Brenlin Mullaney for Cat Rapp, and Arianna Del Moral for Adler. Del Moral steps into the center mid next to Morgan Stone, which moves Rami Rapp up next to Mullaney in the central attacking midfield roles.
In the 75th minute, GK Talyor Kane steps in for Poorbaugh.
Right after the GK change, LB Abby Ostrem makes a weaving dribble that looms with potential. She is fouled in the box. Solphie French steps up to take the penalty kick and scores her second goal of the season. French just kills it, like Bikini Kill(s) it.
“But no one said life was easy … No, no one told me anything / To prepare me for … this”
“We faced a lot of things today, a little adversity, but we were able to adapt and score one of our fastest goals of the season to get off to a really good start for the rest of the game. Our level stayed consistent for the whole game and I was really happy with that.”Nicole Lukic – Aurora head coach
Continuing from their 2022 two-game series in Green Bay, Aurora win their third straight game against Green Bay Glory 5-0. They score a new fastest goal record at 33 seconds. They remain undefeated at 7-0-0 and surpass San Francisco Glens SC (32 GF, 3 GA) on total USL W League goals and total goal differential (Aurora 34 GF, 2 GA). However, Southeast Division leader Tampa Bay United beat Maimi AC 11-0 to surpass Aurora’s previous 2023 league-wide largest goal differential.
“No Backrub” – No Rest, Aurora Play Saturday
Today, June 17, Aurora host another new team to the USL W and team they have yet to see. Bavarians United SC from the northern Milwaukee suburb of Glendale, WI comes to TCO Stadium. They are in third place in Heartland Division. What will happen? Come around and find out.