Girls Soccer: Dominant defense continues for Brainerd

Warriors don't allow a shot in fifth straight win

Brainerd's Emma Sheflo kicks the ball against Sauk Rapids Friday, Sept. 11, at Don Adamson field in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

For the fifth straight game, Brainerd’s defense didn’t allow a goal in its 4-0 win over the Sauk Rapids Storm Friday, Sept. 11, at Adamson Field.

The win keeps the Warriors undefeated and the shutout means Brainerd still hasn’t allowed a goal in 2020.

“I thought the defense was incredible,” Warriors head coach Grant Gmeinder said. “I thought they were so aggressive getting up the field quickly and stopping attacks before they started.”

Brainerd Girls Soccer vs Sauk Rapids

Sophomore Molly Hagelie is one of the anchors on defense for Brainerd playing in front of goalkeeper Peyton LeMieur.


“I thought we played pretty well,” Hagelie said. “We have to keep playing up when other teams just are not — we can’t play to their level and I think we did pretty well with that tonight.”

Communication has been a big part of the Warriors’ defensive success.

“I think we are really comfortable with each other, which helps,” Hagelie said. “It’s really nice when we get a goal pretty quick because then we don’t have to stress a lot when the ball gets past us.”

Offensively, Emma Sheflo continued a stellar sophomore season and tallied one goal and two assists in the win.

Sheflo’s goal started the scoring for Brainerd halfway through the first half. She dribbled through the defense before finding the back of the net, giving the Warriors a 1-0 lead.

“She is just so dynamic in what she can do,” Gmeinder said. “She is very fast, very quick, has great dribbling ability to beat people 1v1 (one on one) and that just opens up the game for herself and others.”

Four minutes later, Gabby Eckman provided a spark off the bench, scoring at the 15:35 mark.

Gmeinder liked what he saw from the left-footed sophomore.


“She’s been so consistent for us this year,” Gmeinder said. “She comes off the bench for us at forward and gives great energy. She’s a lefty, which kind of throws people off and she can really rip it.”

The Warriors enjoyed a comfortable 2-0 lead into halftime. In the second half, senior captain Mari Devine tacked on a third goal, which was assisted by Sheflo.

“She had a great game as well,” Gmeinder said of Devine. “One of the things she is best at is defense, which is kind of funny to think about when you think of all the goals she’s scored. But she just creates easy offense for us because she is able to be in the right spots, steal the ball near the other team’s goal and put them away.”

At the 8:36 mark of the second half, Lexi McElfresh, who was on a minutes restriction coming back from an illness, scored the fourth and final goal for Brainerd.

“It was good to have her back today,” Gmeinder said.

Gmeinder loves what he is seeing from his team in games and in practice.


“We’ve talked about how our practices need to be the most competitive times for us and when we get to the game we are ready to go because we have had that competition in practice all the time,” Gmeinder said. “We just saw from our senior leadership this week that they stepped up and talked about how often the most competitive time we are going to have is against each other in practice.”

Hagelie thinks the shutout streak can continue if they keep playing like they are.

“I think we can play more together and communicate better,” Hagelie said. “I think (the shutout streak) can last until the season’s over.”

Brainerd 2 2 — 4
Sauk Rapids 0 0 — 0

First half: Brd-Emma Sheflo 19:58; Brd-Gabby Eckman 15:35
Second half: Brd-Mari Devine (Sheflo) 17:42, Brd-Lexi McElfresh (Sheflo) 8:36
Shots on goal: Brd 12, SR 0
Goalkeepers: Brd-Peyton LeMieur (0 saves); SR-Maggie Fernholz (8 saves)

Warriors 4, Sauk Rapids 0

Key: Stingy defense gives Brainerd its fifth straight shutout win.


Conference: Brd 5-0, SR 0-4.

Overall: Brd 5-0, SR 0-4.

Next: Brainerd hosts St. Cloud Tech 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 15.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

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