Emma Sheflo giggled and said she sometimes struggles to finish her chores and homework.
Finishing has not been a problem on the soccer pitch for the Brainerd Warriors sophomore who has tallied eight goals and four assists for a breakout start to a 5-0 girls soccer season.
But that wasn’t always the case.
“I’ve been working on finishing because that’s been one of my struggles,” Sheflo said. “I’ve been focusing on not missing and just keeping calm and focusing on the back of the net. I’ve just been finding the corners of the net and not looking directly at the goalie. I’ve just tried to keep calm and not boot it over the net.”
In a 9-0 blowout of St. Cloud Apollo Tuesday, Sept. 8, Sheflo tallied the game’s first goal and finished off her hat trick in the first half. She also assisted on Hailey Nelson’s first-half goal.
“The biggest thing we’ve seen from her is, she’s always been fast,” Warriors head coach Grant Gmeinder said. “She’s always been quick. She’s always had great dribbling ability, but this year, the difference is she is finishing. She’s able to pick out corners and she doesn’t even have to rip a powerful shot because she’s been able to place them in the corners. That’s been the biggest difference with her scoring.”
The Apollo game wasn’t Sheflo’s first hat trick. She tallied her first varsity three-goal game in an 8-0 Central Lakes Conference victory over Rocori Wednesday, Sept. 2.
Once again, Sheflo scored the game’s first goal. She said that’s been a big key to her goal-scoring success.
“Once I score, it definitely boosts my confidence a little bit,” Sheflo said. “That’s good. I did want to be one of the lead scorers. That was one of my goals and not to biff it when I’m shooting.
“I definitely get a confidence boost and get the go-get it kind of attitude when I score early.”
Sheflo’s other two goals of the Rocori game came in the second half.
The sophomore tallied a goal in the first half of the Warriors 4-0 victory over Sauk Rapids Friday, Sept. 11.
“I’ve definitely been better at one-on-one situations and getting around defenders,” Sheflo said. “I try to not take the shot all the time and pass to my teammates to give everybody opportunities to score and set my teammates up for success.”
In Brainerd’s closest match to date, a 2-0 victory over Sartell, Thursday, Sept. 1, a late Sheflo goal sealed the conference victory.
In the Warriors’ season-opener against Fergus Falls, Sheflo assisted on Avery LeMieur’s goal pushing her season totals to eight goals and four assists.
Despite being a sophomore, Gmeinder hasn’t been surprised by Sheflo’s offensive output.
“That’s always kind of been who she has been,” Gmeinder said. “Some of the coaches have called her a killer. She’s got that kind of killer mind-set and we love it because she’s that way in practice, too. She’ll do everything she can to dribble past you. Beat you and then score on you and when she’s done she’ll smile and be friends with you again. In the game, she’s kind of ruthless.”
In 16 games as a freshman, Sheflo posted three goals and four assists. Her seven points were fifth on the team.
And despite not having an offseason or a regular preseason, Sheflo said the connections with her teammates have been there on and off the field.
“It hasn’t been too bad,” Sheflo said. “In practice, we’re always positive and we support each other and we’ve done a couple of things outside of practice where we hang out like at a team dinner or a team run or something. It’s been good. I feel like our connection has been good.”
Gmeinder is giddy about the next two years with Sheflo. He said despite the increased goal-scoring, he still believes finishing isn’t a strength, yet.
“She played junior varsity as an eighth-grader so we’ve seen her for a couple of years now,” Gmeinder said. “The biggest thing is she has gotten a lot stronger over the last couple of years. That will be a big thing as she continues to get stronger. That will make a big difference in her game.
“Her finishing has improved a lot, but I think it will continue to improve a ton. Then, the biggest thing is just understanding how to use your teammates as well. She’s so great individually and I think we’re starting to see that a little bit as she and Avery LeMieur have a great connection. Her and Mari Devine have a great connection and so as those improve she’ll start to become even more dangerous.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Other notable performances
Avery LeMieur, girls soccer, scored twice against St. Cloud Apollo.
Adam Klecker, boys soccer, scored three goals against St. Cloud Apollo. He added another goal against Sauk Rapids.
Chandler Niemeyer, swimming and diving, won the 100-yard breaststroke, was part of the winning 200 medley relay and placed second in the 50 freestyle.
Mariah Alderson, swimming and diving, won the 200 individual medley, was part of the winning 200 medley relay and placed second in the 100 butterfly.
Kate Kurtzman, girls tennis, won her No. 1 singles match 6-0, 6-0 over St. Cloud Apollo/Sauk Rapids.
Taylor Ruhl, girls tennis, won her No. 3 singles match 6-0, 6-0 over St. Cloud Apollo/Sauk Rapids.
Bridget Collins, cross-country, scored a top-five finish at the Bemidji Invite.
Height: 5-foot-6 1/2
Career highlight: Scoring a hat trick
Other sports: Basketball, track and field
Grade-point average: 3.9
Favorite class: Physical science
Favorite food: Pasta
Favorite movie: “Avengers: Endgame”
Favorite TV show: “Grey’s Anatomy”
Favorite website or app: Snapchat or TikTok
Favorite restaurant: Panera Bread
Favorite athlete: Michael Jordan
Parents: Randi and Jerrad Sheflo