On Thursday, June 6, Minnesota Aurora FC hosted Rochester FC in the first leg of the Minnesota Derby. The Rochester Loons kept the match close after conceding early, with their defense drawing the praise of Aurora coach and players, but the hosts found the breakthrough in spectacular fashion to win 2-1.

Despite scoring the opening goal in the third minute, Cat Rapp found a lot to be improved upon, for herself and for the team:

“I’m glad that we got the win but I think we could have done a lot more today We had a game plan. I think at some points we were able to execute it and others we weren’t able to do as we wanted,” she said. “But I’m glad we got the win. It shows that even when we’re not playing our best, we can still get results.”

“We wanted to start the game right but, you know, the game lasts for 90 minutes,” said head coach Colette Montgomery. “Sometimes scoring in the first couple of minutes is the worst thing you can do. You know, Rochester again shut things down. They’ve got – obviously – some really good individuals and you know, they’ve all had a really good game, some big saves as well.”

Rochester goalkeeper Emma Knack was key to keeping Aurora to just two goals on the night. At the other end, midfielder Aida Kardovic put Rochester on the board, scoring the equalizer in the 38th minute. The Creighton grad now has 5 goals this year for the Loons.

“They were just playing hard, obviously. We expect that from every single team. In particular that number seven [Kardovic], she was very good for them,” Rapp said. “I think she scored their goal off the free kick and she was very good, very technical.”

“We definitely have to give credit to their number seven,” echoed Jelena Zbiljic. “She was a baller. She was very good and hard to defend.”

Zbiljic scored the winner for Aurora, finding the far upper corner of the goal with a strike that coach Montgomery called a crot: “We call that a crot. Was it a cross or a shot so we call it a crot. At the end of the day the ball ends up in the back of the net so we’re happy with that.”

The ball found the back of the net and the play found the No. 6 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 that night.

“I like being very helpful and crossing, or just taking people on and going one-v-one,” Zbiljic explained. “So it’s kind of what I tried to do and then I kind of saw the keeper a little off her line and I just love to test the keeper and try to get a goal in and that’s exactly what happened.”

Aurora will go on the road this coming Thursday, June 13, to face Knack and Kardovic on their own turf. But first, Aurora (2nd) will host River Light FC (3rd) on Saturday night.

After coming out of the Rochester match feeling that her side was not as clinical as they’d like to be, Montgomery said, “The players know the standards and the expectation. And so we’re going to close the door on this one very quickly and move on to the Lights on the weekend.”