The Twin Ports' first ever pre-professional women's soccer game kicked off on a chilly May night at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior, WI. Dressed in navy, Superior City FC came into the game as heavy underdogs, facing a Vlora squad stacked with high profile players, including many who play at the NCAA Division 1 level, and a sprinkle of former professionals. The girls from the North didn't disappoint. The game kicked off and Superior took control of the game early, dictating play throughout the entirety of the first half. A few early chances by CSS defender Ellie Keillor and UWS forward Niya Wilson were easily pushed aside by Concordia St. Paul goalkeeper Kayla Matuzak. Superior finally broke the game open in the 18th minute when Esko HS winger Gwendolyn Lilly crossed fields, finding CSS midfielder Avery Sutton wide open on the left flank. Sutton took a touch and fired the shot low and to the right of Matuzak, scoring the first goal in Superior City and UPSL Midwest-West women's soccer history. Superior made the most of the momentum and found a second goal just a minute later, when Avery Sutton's cross was volleyed out of the air by Niya Wilson and into the net, sending the crowd of almost 100 spectators who braved the cold into a frenzy. The game remained in control by the home squad, with Wilson's shot from the 6 yard box cleared away by a defender in the 32nd minute. Vlora finally found their first shot on net in the 36th minute, but CSS goalkeeper Gracie Meagher calmly handled the incoming strike, and Superior went into the half up by two.
The start of the second half saw Vlora come out with an early push, putting their final two shots of the game on net in the 53rd and 56th minutes, but none got past Meagher. The game swung back into Superior's favor after after St. Micheal College's Emilia McGiffert was subbed onto the pitch in the 59th minute. Paired with UMD midfielder Victoria Thorson, Vlora had no answer for the strong presence in the middle and Superior began to push forward more often. Wilson had another prime chance saved by Matuzak in the 75th minute, and McGiffert had a great chance from outside the 18 sail barely wide of the net in the 83rd minute. With the game in hand, McGiffert had another strong chance saved in the 90+1 minute and the referee blew the final whistle. Meagher earned a clean sheet in net and Superior City FC started the season with an important win against a strong Vlora squad.
Head Coach Sharon Lahti was unable to coach the squad due to MSHSL eligibility rules, so Assistant Coach Cole Bergman filled in as the interim coach for this game. Here's what he had to say about the game: "Great performance from our girls on a historic night for women's soccer in the Twin Ports. Full credit to Sharon for all the work that she's done with the team in training. Obviously our Esko girls haven't been able to train with us, same with Emilia McGiffert just coming back from college, but they came in ready to go, so hats off to them as well. We came out strong and showed a lot of heart. We've got a lot of quality in our squad and I'm excited to see what this team can do this season. We'll put in another good week of training and will be ready to go against another strong club, Tonka-Fusion, next weekend."
5-12/NBC Spartan Sports Complex/UPSL Women League Game
Superior City FC...........................2 0 - 2
Vlora FC........................................0 0 - 0
First Half - SCFC - Avery Sutton (Gwendolyn Lilly) 18', SCFC - Niya Wilson (Avery Sutton) 19'
Second Half - None
Saves: SCFC - Gracie Meagher (3 saves), VLORA - Kayla Matuzak (8 saves)
Superior City FC will travel to Minnetonka to face Tonka-Fusion FC next Saturday, May 20th at Minnetonka High School. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 PM CT.