Historic Inaugural Season for Girls in Blue Ends After Defeat in Playoff Opener
EAGAN, Minn. (Wednesday, July 13, 2022) – Indy Eleven’s successful inaugural season of play in the USL W League came to an abrupt end in tonight’s Quarterfinal Round of the W League Playoffs via a hard fought 1-2 loss at Minnesota Aurora FC in front over 6,200 fans at a sold out TCO Stadium in suburban Minneapolis.
The hard luck result looked to be going the other way after Ella Rogers gave Indiana’s Team the lead late in the first half, but Minnesota stormed back in the second to ultimately take the playoff affair between two of the three unbeaten teams in the 44-team USL W League following regular season action.
The energetic opening of the match was indicative of the quality and evenness of the two sides. Both proved difficult to break down during a back-and-forth first 20 minutes, their organized defenses thwarting numerous chances once repeated forays moved into the final third.
Indy Eleven seized the momentum from there with a flurry of chances midway through the half, attempts on goal by Addie Chester and Maddy Williams followed by a Rogers blast that missed wide. Indy earned a golden opportunity to take the lead when another saved shot off the foot of Williams bounced into the outstretched arm of a defender in the 23rd minute to earn a point to the spot, but Aurora goalkeeper Sarah Fuller did well to stop Williams’ ensuing penalty kick, keeping the proceedings scoreless.
Indy Eleven goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood countered with a clutch save of her own in the 31st minute, when she got just enough of Kat Rapp’s close range shot to send it wide of the far post. The ensuing corner kick also threated, but Mariah Nguyen’s 15-yard shot rose over the crossbar. Shortly thereafter in the 34th minute Indiana’s Team took the lead, Jenna Chatterton’s short pass that split two defenders setting up Rogers to get on her left foot and place a shot from near the top of the area inside the far right post to move the scoreboard.
Aurora pushed to find an equalizer before the end of the half, with Mayu Inokawa’s blast from 25 yards that forced Wood into an acrobatic, one-handed diving punch in the 40th minute proving the most dangerous of numerous looks in the final 10 minutes of the half for Minnesota. Williams felt she had a second PK claim in the 42nd minute when she went to ground under contact after gaining an angle inside the area, but the referee motioned to play on. As the match crossed into first half stoppage time, Aurora’s Eli Rapp squandered a ball that found her feet in space eight yards from goal, spraying the chance high to further frustrate the home side and send the Eleven into the locker room with a 1-0 advantage.
Indy nearly doubled its lead less than a minute into the second off a free kick, but a header in traffic near the six came back off the crossbar and was cleared from danger. That allowed Minnesota to equalize in the 50th minute through a brilliant individual effort by halftime substitute Morgan Turner, who gave Wood no chance to reach a bending 21-yard effort that curled into the upper left corner. A lunging cross by Minnesota on the endline in the 58th minute turned into a shot when it brushed the top of the crossbar and remained in play, allowing Indy to dodge a bullet heading into a tense final half hour.
Minnesota drew the benefit of a point to the spot in the 66th minute when Maya Hansen made the most of contact inside the area, and Aurora FC took the lead despite Wood diving low and right to get a fingertip to Inokawa’s spot kick. Wood stepped up big to keep Indy within arm’s length in the 70th minute, getting a big hand to send Turner’s free kick from a few yards outside of the area over the bar. Minnesota kept increased numbers behind the ball and held the Indy attack at bay across most of the last final quarter-hour, leaving the Girls in Blue unable to put Fuller under serious duress with any of its chances down the stretch.
While the final whistle brought a disappointing end to the campaign, this inaugural Indy Eleven W League squad will be remembered for writing a historic and groundbreaking new chapter for the women’s game in the Hoosier State. As always, fans can stay tuned to the club’s @IndyEleven channels on social media and indyeleven.com/wleague for the latest news and updates on the Girls in Blue.
2022 USL W League Playoffs – Quarterfinal Round
Minnesota Aurora FC 2 : 1 Indy Eleven
Wednesday, July 13, 2022 – 8:00 p.m. ET
TCO Stadium – Eagan, Minn.
Indy Eleven: 10W-1L-2D (Great Lakes Division champion)
Minnesota Aurora FC: 12W-0L-1D (Heartland Division champion)
IND – Ella Rogers (Jenna Chatterton) 34’
MIN – Morgan Turner (Kat Rapp) 50’
MIN – Mayu Inokawa (penalty kick) 66’
IND – Karsyn Cherry (yellow card) 69’
MIN – Jill Bennett (yellow card) 72’
IND – Jenna Chatterton (yellow card) 79’
MIN – Jill Bennett (second yellow card/red card) 92+’
Indy Eleven lineup: 1-Mackenzie Wood, Karsyn Cherry, Robyn McCarthy, Grace Bahr, Nikia Smith (Milica Bulatovic); Jenna Chatterton, Molly McLaughlin (Julia Leonard 45) (Reese Sochacki 82’), Ella Rogers, Addie Chester, Katie Soderstrom; Maddy Williams
IND substitutes: Taylor Beard, Abby Foulk, Isadora Gajdobranski, Emma Johnson
Minnesota Aurora FC lineup: Sarah Fuller; Eli Rapp (Jill Bennett 45’), Rachel Preston (Abby Ostrem 63’), Kelsey Kaufusi, Kenzie Langdok; Mariah Nguyen, Addy Symonds, Cat Rapp, Mayu Inokawa (Kristelle Yewah 84’), Jelena Zbiljic (Morgan Turner 45’), Maya Hansen
MIN substitutes: Taylor Kane, Rami Rapp, Arianna Del Moral