Minnesota Aurora’s goal celebrations show amateur team embracing fun during dream season

During Aurora’s undefeated 11-0-1 regular season, the first-year USL W League soccer club has not let a too-serious approach squeeze all the fun out of the game in the name of winning at all costs.

Minnesota United midfielder Mariah Nguyen was picked up by Morgan Stone and Elizabeth Rapp to pose for a "fish celebration" photo by Rachel Preston during a game at TCO Stadium in Eagan on June 25.
Courtesy / Minnesota Aurora
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The unique celebration idea dawned on Mariah Nguyen at halftime of Minnesota Aurora’s 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Lions at TCO Stadium on June 26. The new amateur soccer team was up 3-1 at the break, so her mind wandered a bit.

The midfielder from Andover told teammate Morgan Stone that if Stone scored in the second half, she should go over to the sideline and grab a smartphone to take a selfie with teammates.

“It’s worth the card,” Nguyen insisted, reference a likely yellow-card booking from the referee for excessive, choreographed and time-wasting celebrations.

Stone then uncorked a long-range shot from outside the box — a strike that made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays that evening — and pulled off the stunt. It somehow didn’t receive a card.

During Aurora’s undefeated 11-0-1 regular season, the first-year USL W League soccer club has not let a too-serious approach squeeze all the fun out of the game in the name of winning at all costs. Players have taken time after training sessions, breaking off into small groups to brainstorm ideas and Google others.


When Nguyen scored two days earlier in a 3-1 win over the Chicago Dutch Lions, she flopped around on the turf as if she were a fish pulled from a Minnesota lake. Stone and Elizabeth Rapp lifted up the “big catch” and posed as Rachel Preston to mimicked a snapshot.

“There’s normal fishing, and there’s ice fishing. But have you ever been turf fishing?” Nguyen tweeted afterward.

These ideas and execution have been given the green light from head coach Nicole Lukic.

“We work hard every single day on scoring goals, so when we finally do it, we want to celebrate and show how much it means to us,” Lukic said. “I think the staff has done a really nice job of giving the players the freedom to show their personalities and it’s come out every single day more and more.”

If Aurora scores in its USL W League playoff game against Indy Eleven (10-0-2) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at TCO Stadium in Eagan, players have prepared at least one celebration.

“We definitely have one in mind,” Nguyen shared without tipping her hand.

Goalkeeper Sarah Fuller is stuck at the other end and doesn’t get to join in the festivities, but she’s enjoying from afar. She particularly liked the “Macarena” rendition they did.

“I like watching them, taking them in and getting reset for the next thing,” Fuller said.


Aurora has had a lot of opportunities to have fun. The team has allowed only eight goals with scoring 36 goals, with 13 players netting goals. Morgan Turner has a team-high six goals, Stone notched five, and Maya Hansen and Makenzie Langdok have four apiece.

In their last game, Aurora scored less than a minute into the game, Turner had a hat trick and their five total goals was a season high. It was a 5-1 win over Green Bay Glory, with shades of revenge.

Aurura has won 11 straight games, but the Glory were the only side to take points off them. Green Bay scored a late equalizer in the season opener in Eagan on May 26.

They couldn’t have known it at the time, but at this point that one goal serves as the only thing that kept their actual undefeated season from being a perfect season.

While they embrace fun, Lukic and players were pretty serious on Monday about how that goal still sticks with them going into the playoffs.


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