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Warriors Athlete of Week: Yeager, Warriors peaking at the right time

Paige Yeager scored four goals in three wins last week for the Brainerd Warriors girls' soccer team.

Soccer player Paige Yeager kicking the ball.
Brainerd Warrior soccer player Paige Yeager practices kicking the the ball to the goal Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, during practice at Adamson Field.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — It’s been a process.

Unlike most seasons, the Brainerd Warriors girls’ soccer team has been slowly building toward the end of the season. It hasn’t been as easy as in the past. There have been blips in the timeline, but last week there were signs of progress among the team and especially senior forward Paige Yeager.

In three wins last week, Yeager tallied four goals to bring her season total to nine.

Yeager tallied two first-half goals in the Warriors’ 6-0 victory over St. Cloud Apollo Tuesday, Sept. 27.

“I believe my first goal was a cross off of Emma Sheflo,” Yeager said. “She’s had a lot of assists to me because she’s a great passer and I was happy to put that one away. I think it was like three minutes into the game. That was nice. I don’t really remember my other goal, but actually, I think it was another cross from Emma.”

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Last week, you put her anywhere inside the 18 with the ball and she was going to get a good shot on net.
Grant Gmeinder

Coming up through the ranks, Yeager said Sheflo and her always played close to each other on the field, but this year the two have found a connection.

“Those two are really clicking at the right time here,” Warriors head coach Grant Gmeinder said. “They’ve created some chemistry and that’s a different role for Emma. She’s scored a lot of goals for us over the years, but she’s just learned that we need her to be a playmaker and set some other people up and Paige is the one she keeps finding so that’s been a great connection.”

Yeager followed the Apollo game with what would be the game-winning goal against St. Cloud Tech as the Warriors captured the Central Lakes Conference contest 2-0 Thursday, Sept. 29.

This time, Yeager did the work herself with the breakaway score.

“Paige has great speed and that creates a lot of opportunities for her,” Gmeinder said. “She really makes intelligent runs. It’s not just always the same thing over and over again. She made a great goal against Tech the other night where it was just kind of a clearance from Cally Robertson, but Paige was right there and beat the defense to it and put the ball in the back of the net to give us a 1-0 lead.

“Also, she’s just genuinely calm. She’s calm in front of the goal. Sometimes when people get there they get really excited and blast the ball over the net. Paige is able to take a breath, stay calm, receive the pass and put it in the corner.”

In both St. Cloud games, Yeager was able to score quickly which she says is a big confidence boost.

“It’s amazing,” Yeager said. “It totally changes the momentum for the rest of the game. I feel like I’m running so much faster because I have that confidence for the rest of the game. It really helps a lot.”

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In the opening game of the 218 Tournament Friday, Sept. 30, Yeager scored the game’s only goal to lift the Warriors over the Bemidji Lumberjacks 1-0.

Yeager’s goal came just before the halftime break.

“There were just so many emotions after that goal,” Yeager said. “Almost my entire team and I came and shared a hug. It was big emotion. I think there are nine senior starters and we’ve all been playing since we were super young so it was a fun moment.”

The goal came off an assist from Gabby Eckman. Yeager said she one-touched it and shot it from the 20.

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“All season long, Paige has put herself in the right spots,” Gmeinder said. “We talk about it all the time, the hard part is getting yourself there. Once you get there you just put the ball in the back of the net. We think that should be the easy part, but a lot of that comes with confidence. Last week, you put her anywhere inside the 18 with the ball and she was going to get a good shot on net.”

For Yeager’s career, she’s amassed 18 goals and two assists. She said her biggest improvement and the reason she’s been able to double her career goals is confidence.

“Being able to help my team as much as I really can has been big for me,” Yeager said. “We always say that we’re playing for each other and I feel like that is something that is important on our team.”

And Yeager senses as the season pushes toward the postseason, the team is gaining confidence, too.

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“Last season, we had a crazy record of 11-2-3 or something like and our record this year isn’t as good as we were hoping, but we’re really figuring it out as the season goes on. I feel like every single game, the one after it is better than the one before. It’s been a lot of building on our team for sure.”

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or jeremy.millsop@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.

Paige Yeager

Paige Yeager
Paige Yeager
Kelly Humphrey

Sport: Girls' soccer

Position: Forward

Year: Senior

Age: 17

Height: 5-foot-7

Career highlight: Being part of the first-place team in the 19-and-under Target USA Cup last summer in Blaine

Grade-point average: 3.5

Favorite class: Writing composition

Favorite food: Pizza

Favorite TV show: “Shameless”

Favorite musical artist: Travis Scott

Favorite restaurant: Panera Bread

Future plans: Hopes to attend college

Favorite athlete: Alex Morgan

Parents: Kevin and Melissa Yeager

Other notable performances

Mya Tautges, girls swimming and diving, won two individual events and was on two winning relays against Melrose and won two more events and was on two winning relays against Sauk Rapids.

Kalvin Stengrim, boys soccer, finished with six saves in a 2-0 win over St. Cloud Tech.

Avery Duerr, girls swimming and diving, won two events and was on two winning relays against Sauk Rapids.

Gracelyn Dickinson, girls soccer, finished with 11 saves in a 2-0 shutout of St. Cloud Tech and corralled 10 saves in a 1-0 win over Bemidji.

Kate Stadum, volleyball, finished with 16 kills, 13 digs and a block against St. Cloud Tech.

Marcello Getty, football, finished with 149 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-24 passing against Alexandria.

Liam Luther, football, finished with 10 tackles, four tackles for loss and one sack against Alexandria.

Related Topics: LOCAL SPORTS
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