Minnesota Aurora closed out its regular season home matches in front of 5,944 fans in a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Lions. Morgan Stone, Mariah Nguyen, and Morgan Turner all got on the scoresheet for Aurora to move the team to 8-0-1 and remain in first place.
To start the scoring in the 9th minute of the match, Aurora earned a penalty kick after a St. Louis handball in the 18-yard box. Morgan Turner stepped up for the kick and beat Madalyn Davis to the left for 1-0.
Nine minutes later, Turner raced down the field but was taken down by a sliding Davis in the 18-yard box to draw another penalty kick for Aurora. This time, Morgan Stone took the kick and buried it for a 2-0 lead.
Minnesota started Taylor Kane in goal, her debut start after earning minutes as a substitute for Sarah Fuller. Kane looked steady throughout the match, but the shutout wouldn’t last. Kane got a hand on Krystal Kohenskey’s shot, but the effort wasn’t enough to keep the Lions’ leading goal scorer from notching her fourth goal of the season.
Before the close of the first half, defender Abby Ostrem launched a pass up the field. Mariah Nguyen raced after the ball and slipped it past the goalkeeper to reestablish a two goal lead at 3-1. Nguyen scored a stunning goal last match, and today’s goal is her third of the season and the start of a two game scoring streak. As for Ostrem, the assist is her first career point.
“So many  players have points which is impressive. That’s helped build our confidence – that anybody on the team can score at any time,” said Head Coach Nicole Lukic. “Lots of quality minutes for lots of players today.”
Aurora’s fourth and final goal (and Stone’s fourth goal of the season) came in the 60th minute. Rami Rapp split the midfield to give Stone space to dribble, and Stone rocketed a powerful shot at the top of the 18-yard box for a 4-1 final score. Stone’s efforts earned her the Star Tribune Player of the Match.
“The support is what has made this team what it is,” said Morgan Stone of the 5,944 fans in attendance. “We’re having so much fun, and we want to show that when we win, we’re having fun. When we get the crow involved, we’re having fun.”
In the inaugural USL W playoffs, eight teams will advance – seven divisional leaders and one wildcard team. The divisions do not have an equal number of teams in each (example: eight in the Metropolitan Division and five in the Mid Atlantic Division) which means that clubs in the larger divisions are at a slight disadvantage. Because of this, the wild card team that will enter the playoffs can only be from the Great Lakes or Metropolitan Division as both divisions have eight teams.
What does this mean for Minnesota Aurora? Because there is no opportunity for a wildcard berth, Aurora must be the Heartland Division Title winner in order to advance to the postseason. Currently, Minnesota Aurora leads the division with 25 points. Green Bay Glory and Kaw Valley trail with 17 and 13 points respectively. With only three games remaining in the regular season (@ CDL and @GB twice), Aurora must keep winning to secure the Heartland Division. The quarterfinal is set for July 13, the semifinal July 17, and the championship July 23. Host sites for the playoffs are yet to be determined.
Minnesota Aurora FC finishes out its regular season on the road against the Chicago Dutch Lions (June 30) and the Green Bay Glory (July 7 and 9). Schedule and ticket information can be found at mnaurorafc.com. All three matches will be streamed on Eleven Sports.