Nebraska Soccer Preview: Huskers Batter Dakotas in Warm-Up Matches

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The Nebraska Women’s Soccer team played host to the University of South Dakota Coyotes and North Dakota State University Bison.  The Huskers made the games tough for the two Summit League sides from the Dakotas.  The Nebraska attack kept two shutouts while scoring 5 goals against USD on Wednesday (8/11) and 8 goals against NDSU on Friday (8/13). Nebraska fans were able to get an early look at the young attack that features highly-rated prep goalscorers Sarah Weber, Haley Peterson, Allison Napora, and Abbey Schwarz.  Coach John Walker handed debuts to most, if not all, of the new players in these two games and the Huskers fans also got to see the depth of the roster in this exhibition. As was true with the Omaha-Iowa State exhibition, the exhibition format is usually not good for game breakdowns and analysis, so below are some observations that we saw from the NDSU exhibition. Firepower Up Front Eleanor Dale, the sophomore forward from England, was a force early last Spring for the Huskers before being sidelined by injury.  Dale can score goals in multiple ways, which she showcased on Friday vs the NDSU Bison.  She scored an incredible header goal from a corner kick to open the scoring for the Huskers, and she followed that up in the second period with a great piece of skill followed by a cool finish.  If Dale can score consistently, the Huskers will be in good shape. The Husker attack as a whole is both youthful and talented.  Reagan Raabe returns after a promising freshman year Spring season.  She will probably see time in both the midfield and the forward line.  Abbey Schwarz, Haley Peterson, Allison Napora, and Sarah Weber all look to be promising additions to the forward line.  The coaching staff won’t be lacking options up top, that is a guarantee. Senior Leadership While most of the attack is on the younger side of things, the core and spine of the team behind them has some considerable experience.  Seniors Dakota Chan and Theresa Pujado patrolled the midfield area against North Dakota State, while Seniors Ashley Zugay and Grace Brown slotted into their spots in the center of the backline. One player that was missing against NDSU who will be vital to the Husker success this year was Kenzie Coons.  Coons, who is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained this summer playing in the UWS league, is an important piece of the Husker midfield.  If she is in the game it may allow the Huskers to move Raabe forward into a more dangerous and attacking role. Set Piece Practice The Huskers got a lot of set piece practice on Friday against NDSU.  The Huskers won 10 corner kicks, scoring off 2, and had several other dangerous free kick opportunities.  The Huskers are definitely not the tallest team in the Big Ten, but they have some quality set piece sets and some dangerous targets that should help them score goals this season. Goal production from set pieces for the Huskers is going to be important.  The Huskers finished last in the Big 10 in goals scored this past Spring, and they finished second to last in 2019.  While they have added some dynamic attacking pieces, they are going to need to execute from dead ball situations to help increase their goal totals and tip tight games more in their favor.  Set piece success can turn close losses into draws and draws into wins. Stoneburner Returns To Action Katie Stoneburner made her Husker debut this Fall in these two exhibition matches, coming off the bench both times.  What Stoneburner’s role will be exactly is still uncertain (for me, I am sure the coaches and Katie know her role going forward).  She is a midfielder, but we have heard rumblings that there could be a move to the backline in the cards for her.  Gwen Lane has made the switch from forward to outside back, and so far that has proven to be successful for the player and the program.  I have no doubt that this potential move could pay off in a similar way for Stoneburner and the program. The bigger reason that Stoneburner’s return is noteworthy is because she is returning from a COVID-related heart condition she battled last year.  Katie is a good storyteller, and her YouTube channel is a great place to start if you are interested in an inside look on the Husker program and the players. Unanswered Questions A couple unanswered questions as the Huskers head into the beginning of their season.  At the time of writing this, they have not kicked off against Western Illinois yet. First, who is going to be the Husker number one goalkeeper?  Junior Makinzie Short was the starter and primary goalkeeper last Spring, but the Huskers have added Sophomore Arizona transfer Sami Hauk to the fold.  Short and Hauk split time fairly equally in the exhibition games, and I am not sure how Coach Walker and the coaching staff handle goalkeeper competitions, if there is one.  We aren’t at every training session either, where a lot of goalkeeper competitions are decided as well.  Both goalkeepers have the ability to do well for the Huskers. Second, how will the Huskers fare as their competition gets tougher?  The Huskers open up with their third Summit League opponent in Western Illinois.  After that, their schedule gets significantly tougher in a hurry.  The Big 10 is no picnic as a soccer conference either.  It’s all well and good to watch Sarah Weber ghost past three defenders and the goalkeeper to put the ball in an empty net (that was the goal of the game for the Huskers against NDSU), but can she do that on cool Fall Sunday in Minneapolis, Minnesota?  Abbey Schwarz and Allison Napora terrorized the wings of USD and NDSU, but can they do that to Iowa?  Haley Peterson put some NDSU defenders on skates, but how will she handle Wisconsin defenders?  The answer to those questions are unknown, but I am looking forward to finding out. Third, will the Huskers truly finish 12th in the Big 10?  The Huskers have had a tough run the last few seasons, and what has made it tougher has been that the Huskers have been competitive in most of their games.  This isn’t a team that is getting regularly blown out by conference or non-conference opponents.  The Huskers losing games by multiple goals is not a regular occurrence.  Could the Huskers finish 12th?  Yes.  Could they finish 6th?  Also, yes.  The margins are fairly thin game-to-game in the Big 10, and if a team can get on a run of results, even over 2 weekends, that can shift the season. Final Thoughts The exhibition game against NDSU was fun.  There was a great crowd, the atmosphere was great, and the Huskers put on an attacking show for the fans.  Hibner is a fantastic venue for the sport.  I think the Huskers enter this season with a determination to improve on past years, and it will be interesting to watch them have a go at a difficult schedule.


Game Review: Gretna vs. Papillion-La Vista (Girls) – 3/30/21

By itself the final scoreline of this matchup gives the impression that this was a comfortable victory for Gretna. In reality, this was a wonderful night of soccer from both sides as they put their skills on display. There was as much talent on this field as you will find in the state of Nebraska.

Overall, there were a total of seven known Division I prospects sharing the field. Most of these players are in their junior or senior season. However, that number will surely increase in the coming years as the talented underclassmen begin the recruitment process.

This game was competitive for seventy-eight minutes until the Dragons closed with two late goals. Both teams moved the ball efficiently and looked very organized. Highlight reel worthy free kicks from both squads provided clear high points of the night. Our observations confirmed that Gretna and Papillion-La Vista are legitimate title contenders in 2021. 

Game Result – Gretna 5     Papillion-La Vista  2

Women of the Match – Madelyn White & Allison Marshall

NEST Quick Hits 

  • Sarah Weber is a general for her team from start to finish. Her positioning on the field, as well as her communication, set her apart from many. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is getting a very talented player. Her goal off of a free kick opportunity was wonderful to watch. 
  • Gretna is closing the gap on Lincoln East for that #1 ranking. Lincoln East is an excellent team, and they have done nothing but win. However, the Dragons have performed to the highest of standards during the first portion of the season. 
  • Gretna has an excellent group of youngsters that are ready to keep the program in title contention for years to come. Madelyn White is an ultra speedy attacker that is only in her sophomore season. Her attitude and work rate provide a great foundation. Allison Marshall is a name to know for the next three years. Although she was not featured in the starting lineup, the dynamic of the game changed once she entered at forward. 
  • Lauryn Anglim was the standout performer for the Monarch side in this match. She was dangerous with the ball at her feet. The future Husker put on a show with her highlight worthy free kick. It was a textbook approach and a fabulous moment of soccer. 
  • An interesting discovery that should be noted was the absence of Ella Guyott. Guyott was expected by many to be a key contributor for the Monarchs. However, she is listed as a student manager and did not see the field.  


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Class B Girls – Players To Watch

Previewing an upcoming season is never an easy task. To do so properly takes countless hours of emails, observations, statistical research, conversation, and reflection. Adding onto that difficulty are challenges, such as a cancelled 2020 season and lingering COVID restrictions, making our preview preparation feel almost impossible.

Despite these obstacles, the approaching 2021 season and its participants – whether that be players, coaches, fans, or families – deserve some semblance of normalcy. Soccer in Nebraska and all those who participate deserve to be promoted. Over the course of four articles, NEST will recognize many outstanding athletes that everyone should look forward to seeing on the pitch.

This list was put together using several resources such as coach recommendations, past all-state lists, statistical analysis from previous seasons, and observational research. The inclusions vary greatly in terms of location, age, and future plans. The listed athletes live in every corner of the state from Omaha to Scottsbluff. Many have signed or are committed to play soccer at the Division I level, while others are pursuing other interests in the future.

Even so, there are two traits that all inclusions of the inaugural NEST Players to Watch preview have in common.

  1. Show stopping and jaw dropping ability on the field.
  2. An admirable love for the sport of soccer. With their ability, passion, and outreach, this game will grow; that is the ultimate goal of Nebraska Soccer Talk.

A special congratulations to all of the athletes. Your hard work, skill, and dedication deserve to be recognized. Nebraska Soccer Talk will be observing closely as your season and career progress.

Class B – Girls

Players are not ranked, instead listed alphabetically by first name.

  1. Abbey Schwarz
    • High School: Omaha Roncalli
    • Class of 2021
    • Future Plans: University of Nebraska-Lincoln soccer signee
  2. Cece Behrens
    • High School: Omaha Skutt
    • Class of 2021
    • Future Plans: University of Nebraska-Omaha soccer signee
  3. Deja Daniels
    • High School: Bennington
    • Class of 2021
  4. Ellie Hutsell
    • High School: Aurora
    • Class of 2022
  5. Emma Caito
    • High School: Omaha Mercy
    • Class of 2021
    • Future Plans: University of Minessota State-Moorehead soccer signee
  6. Emma Foote
    • High School: Scottsbluff
    • Class of 2021
    • Future Plans: Hastings College volleyball signee
  7. Hanna King
    • High School: Elkhorn High
    • Class of 2021
    • Future Plans: South Dakota State University soccer signee
  8. Jenna Hotovy
    • High School: Omaha Skutt
    • Class of 2021
    • Future Plans: South Dakota State University soccer signee
  9. Lauren Stull
    • High School: Lincoln Lutheran/Raymond Central
    • Class of 2021
    • Future Plans: Hastings College soccer signee
  10. Leah Rasmussen
    • High School: Waverly
    • Class of 2021
  11. Madison Smith
    • High School: Omaha Duchesne
    • Class of 2021
    • Future Plans: Benedictine College
  12. Mia Hurt
    • High School: Bennington
    • Class of 2022
  13. Sydney Herren
    • High School: Omaha Gross Catholic
    • Class of 2021

Once again, congratulations to the above athletes for all of their accomplishments. Your future in the game of soccer is incredibly bright.

Additionally, it must be mentioned that this is not intended to be an all encompassing or complete list. There are a great number of talented soccer players in Nebraska that we have simply not discovered yet. As the 2021 season gets underway, those athletes will be seen and recognized. That is truly the whole point of Nebraska Soccer Talk.

If you are a soccer player or know of a soccer player that should be on our radar, feel free to contact us. NEST is always looking to cover more soccer and add to our lists.


Thank you for reading and being a part of our new community. A like, share, comment or recommendation of our content would be greatly appreciated. In order to financially support our efforts, sponsorship/partnership opportunities have become available. Sponsors will receive vast exposure to the Nebraska soccer community through different media avenues. The sponsorship process is easy and reasonable.

Contact us on our website or email @

Connect with us on TwitterInstagram, or listen to our podcast on Spotify.