Athena DiMario Done slid to the ground to prevent a goal, but couldn’t prevent an Augustana Viking cleat from colliding with her face.
The junior goalkeeper, the stalwart of the Minnesota Crookston defense, laid face-down on the grass as the home Golden Eagle fans pleaded for at least a foul.
No whistle was made, no card was shown and no effects seemed to last from the hit for DiMario Done, who visited with trainers before returning to her perch as if nothing happened.
The scary moment in the 71st minute wasn’t the most important play of Augustana’s 3-0 win over the Golden Eagles at Minnesota Crookston Soccer Field. But DiMario Done — who set a career-high 17 saves on Friday — did personify the most important thing the Golden Eagles (0-11-0, 0-10-0 NSIC) can take away from a defeat to the conference-leading Vikings (12-1-1, 10-0-1).
“Just her bravery,” said Minnesota Crookston coach Kyle Halfpop. “I mean, the injury she took, it's easy to be a little tentative, but as the game wore on and she got more minutes, the more brave she was to come out from out of her box and make some good saves for us.”
You have to be brave to allow 48 shots — 20 of them on target — and let just three get past you. You have to be even braver to do that as a young, thin team still searching for its first win in its first season under a new head coach. And for a team that’s been outscored 42-2 on the season, that means as much as the result itself.
From the outset, Augustana did what a team leading its conference should do against a team still searching for its first win — control the midfield and fire non-stop on goal.
Minnesota Crookston, meanwhile, did what a team still searching for its first win should do against a team leading its conference — pack in on defense and look to kick the ball as far out of danger as possible.
For most of the first half, the Golden Eagles did so successfully. The Vikings took 23 shots, putting 10 of them on goal, and won 10 corners, but had to work for them deep in the box.
Sheer volume, however, won out. It did so pretty early, as Alexis Legg redirected a bouncing ball into the net five minutes into the game. According to sophomore defender Kiya Gere, this might have been a death knell in the past, but that hasn’t been the case as of late – a small indication of progress, but an indication nonetheless.
“Last couple games, we've done a really good job not putting our head down after the first goal,” Gere said. “Really getting after it and making sure that we still put that work in to not let them get any more.”
The Vikings did get more, but it took them a while. After an ensuing half-hour marked by cohesive Augustana possession and sporadic Minnesota Crookston long balls down the flanks, Kenzie Geiger beat DiMario Done for a 2-0 lead which carried into halftime.
“Obviously you never want to give up a quick goal,” Halfpop said. “That wasn't our game plan by any means, but we responded well. I think it took us a little bit to figure out how they were attacking us, and once we did that I thought we adjusted well. We defended better, and just (kept) the ball better.”
The Golden Eagles’ second half was a mix of desperate defending and good fortune. The Vikings hit multiple posts and shot wide on a number of open opportunities before finally adding an insurance goal in the 78th minute.
But right off the ensuing kickoff, Minnesota Crookston just missed on a breakaway, won a corner and followed that up with a shot, and continued to push the ball into Augustana’s half on occasion.
“Our plan was to sit back and counter them,” Halfpop said. “We did that pretty well when the opportunities presented themselves. We didn't get the support we needed, but we were dangerous up front when we had the chance.”
It doesn’t take a microscope to see why the Golden Eagles are 0-11. As Gere put it multiple times, they’re a work in progress.
But they’ve embraced that label, and thus can embrace a defeat in which they were outshot 48-6 as a fair, even encouraging, result.
“We've had a series of really hard games the last weekend, this weekend's been pretty hard,” Gere said. “ … We're kinda through the thick of it, through the hardest teams to play in conference, and if we keep up this hard work we’ve really got a shot going forward to get points.”