Girls Soccer: Warriors get a shutout in home opener

Brainerd Warrior Emma Balsley pushes the ball down the field with Sartell with a pair of defenders close by Tuesday, Sept. 2, at Adamson Field in Brainerd. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd midfielder Avery LeMieur’s goal three minutes into the game helped the Warriors get a 2-0 shutout win over the Sartell Sabres Thursday, Sept. 1, at Adamson Field.

The early goal helped the Warriors settle into the game.

“I knew we had to come out strong,” LeMieur said. “My goal is to be as competitive as possible, so I wanted to get that first goal early so that we could have an early lead, so that the rest of the half and the rest of the game would go our way.”


LeMieur’s goal came when she forced a Sartell turnover.

“That was a great play by Avery to capitalize on that turnover,” Warriors head coach Grant Gmeinder said. “I think it settled us down which was good.”

LeMieur said the goal helped relieve some pressure and made the teamwork harder.

“We know it’s a one-goal lead and we know that if we make mistakes we can lean on that and go from there,” LeMieur said. “It was awesome to get back on the field. I really missed it with the whole COVID thing.”

Later in the first half, Gmeinder thought his team was playing too complacent with a one-goal lead.

“We were a little too settled down,” Gmeinder said. “Thankfully, they were able to turn it on in the second half.”

In hot pursuit after the ball, Brainerd Warrior Kayla Bush stays ahead of her Sartell defender Tuesday, Sept. 2 at Adamson Field. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch


Six minutes after LeMieur's goal, Sartell's Hannah Hackenmueller lined up for a penalty kick to tie the game. Brainerd goalie Gracelyn Dickinson denied her.

“I saw her looking one way, so I figured she was going the other way,” Dickinson said. “She did and then I had a lot of adrenaline running through me at the time so that helped me.”

The save helped keep momentum in Brainerd’s favor.

“Just so impressed by Gracelyn there,” Gmeinder said. “She just read that girl perfectly and was right at the spot to make a save before the ball was. That kind of momentum makes a huge difference in a game.”

The save helped Dickinson’s confidence as well.

Brainerd Warrior Gabby Eckman fights for the ball against a pair of Sartell defenders Tuesday, Sept. 2, at Adamson Field. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

“It really pushed me through the game because that confidence helped me throughout the game,” Dickinson said. “I just keep my mentality high and make sure that I see ball -- save ball.”


The Warriors went into halftime up 1-0 and got eight shots on goal.

Emma Sheflo buried a goal with less than two minutes to put the game out of reach. Brainerd defenseman Kayla Bush picked up the assist.

“I thought we had more threat to end the second half,” Gmeinder said. “I’m proud of Emma Sheflo. She made a great run.”

The Warriors finished with 12 shots on goal and their defense only allowed four shots on net. Dickinson notched four saves.

Brainerd has picked up two shutouts in its first two games.

“Just wonderful leadership by Kayla Bush and Molly Hagelie — two starters coming back from last year,” Gmeinder said of the defensive performance. “I think they settled us down. I thought they did a great job of commanding the defense with their communication.”

Brained Warrior Avery LeMieur fights for the ball with a Sartell defender Tuesday, Sept. 2, at Adamson Field. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch


Dickinson thinks the defense is playing with great continuity.

“We have been doing well swinging the ball back through the back,” she said. “Making sure to push it wide and then push it up the line.”

With all the uncertainty surrounding the season, Gmeinder said it felt normal to finally be on the home turf again.

“Just so grateful to be here,” Gmeinder said. “Other than the masks we have on, it just felt normal.”

Sartell 0 0 — 0
Brainerd 1 1 — 2


First half: Brd-Avery LeMieur 37:27
Second half: Brd-Emma Sheflo (Kayla Bush) 1:42
Shots on goal: Brd 12, Sar 4
Goalkeepers: Brd-Gracelyn Dickinson (4 saves); Sar-Chloe Swanson (10 saves)

Warriors 2, Sartell 0

Key: Warriors coasted to a win after a fast start.

Conference: Brd 2-0, Sar 1-1.

Overall: Brd 2-0, Sar 1-1.

Next: Brainerd at Rocori 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2.

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


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