Through five games, Minnesota Aurora has never played from behind, but in the opening minutes of the first half, Chicago City SC connected quick passes to break past the defense and hand Aurora their first 0-1 deficit.
The rest of the half was scrappy with both teams trading fouls. Neither team received yellow cards, but the referee issued several verbal warnings. To combat the aggressive play in the midfield, both teams resorted to lofted balls to beat their opponent.
Due to the heat, a water break occurred midway through the half, and that’s when Aurora started to turn the game in their favor. They battled through and found a way to level the score.
In the 68th minute, Mariah Nguyen was fouled in the 18-yard box which resulted in a penalty kick for Aurora. The captain, Makenzie Langdok stepped up to the spot and scored, tying the game 1-1 before the half. Langdok’s goal was her third of the season and leads the team in scoring.
Aurora wasn’t content with a tie, and they pushed through the adversity to take the lead. After a shot on goal, Nguyen (who drew the foul for the penalty kick goal) headed the rebound back toward the net, and Jelena Zbiljic scored to make the game 2-1.
“It took a lot of grit and adaptability,” said Head Coach Nicole Lukic. “We went down 0-1, but we were able to grind it out. We made some good adjustments as a group.”
The two teams continued to play scrappy, and the referee’s whistle was constant. Minnesota Aurora’s 2-1 lead didn’t feel secure as Chicago City continued to bring pressure. The relief for Aurora came when Morgan Turner scored her first career goal in the dwindling seconds of added time to close out the game 3-1.
“We set our goals high at the beginning of the season,” said Langdok. “We know at this point in the season that every game counts, and we need to get a result every single game if we want to keep playing.” Minnesota Aurora has a quick turnaround as they head back to Minnesota and play Sunday, June 19th at TCO Stadium and continue their undefeated season.