Last Sunday was one of those spring days that actually felt like spring. A leave-the-windows-open-and-go-walk type of day last week when the Nebraska soccer team played three indoor matches.
The Huskers hosted South Dakota for two matches sandwiching a tilt against Iowa State on March 5 at Hawks Championship Center. The abbreviated exhibition matches were the only March friendlies, and only ones that won’t be played at Hibner Stadium. Packed walkways and balconies witnessed the Huskers go 3-0 and outscore their opponents by a combined 5-1 margin.
Nebraska head coach John Walker liked what he saw out of the squad last Sunday. The young squad grew from a blowout loss to St. Louis into a NCAA bubble team that held its own with every team in the Big Ten last season. One player graduated from that team and three of the Huskers 2023 recruiting class signings played in the spring exhibitions. Collectively, they played with promise although Walker noted the team’s missed chances to score more. But, overall, the only coach in program history walked away pleased.
The Huskers beat South Dakota, 1-0, in the opening match thanks to a winning goal from Florence Belzile. The Montreal international scored off an assist from Jordan Zade in the 14th minute. She nearly doubled her account 4 minutes later but was ruled offside. Belzile’s role grew throughout last season, eventually scoring a brace to upset ranked Penn State at Hibner Stadium. She played over 1,100 minutes in 2022 and will likely see a more consistent role as a junior this fall. Two of the Huskers’ new faces—New York native Ella Rudney and Lincoln East standout Kayma Carpenter—debuted in that match. Rudney registered two shots in the friendly.
Nebraska beat Iowa State, 2-1, in the second game. Millard West graduate Reagan Raabe scored the leadoff goal in the 13th minute. Raabe’s goal marked her first since suffering a leg injury against Penn State in the Huskers’ home finale last fall. She was named third-team all-Big Ten last season. England international Eleanor Dale doubled Nebraska’s lead in the 42nd minute off an assist from Lincoln East graduate Haley Peterson. That was Dale’s first goal back with Nebraska since her international duty, playing on England’s Under-23 team in a recent friendly. Norris standout Reese Borer, one of the 2023 class singings, made her first collegiate appearance during the match. Iowa State’s Mira Emma scored the only goal Nebraska allowed last week in the 45th minute.
The Huskers closed their trifecta of games with a 2-0 win against South Dakota. Lincoln East graduate Briley Hill put the Huskers ahead in the 17th minute with a header. She didn’t score in 320 minutes and 12 appearances last season. Dale then doubled her tally for the day in the 38th minute off an assist from Sarah Weber. Weber is spending this week’s spring break in Portland as part of the U.S. Women’s National Under-23 Team in the Thorns Preseason Tournament. She started on the left wing Sunday in the first of three preseason matches. The preseason tournament will continue throughout the week with USWNT U-23 matches on Wednesday and Saturday.
A few Nebraska natives played for South Dakota during the exhibitions. Campbell Zimmers, a graduate of Millard North, Omaha Marian graduate Maggie Pallesen and Omaha Burke graduate Tatum Lundgren all stood out for the Coyotes. Lincoln Northeast graduate Tiannah Moore was a fifth-year senior for South Dakota last season. She played in 13 games with three starts this past season.
Nebraska’s spring season takes a break before returning to action on April 8 with a 1 p.m. match against Kansas at Hibner Stadium. It’s one of two remaining home spring matches, along with a April 15 match against Kansas City. The Huskers close their spring schedule at Colorado on April 22.