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Lady Lopers win inaugural soccer match; record crowd watches history
Matt Tomjack
Guest Writer

After an intense advertising campaign, it was time for the UNK Athletic Department to find out if their goal of setting a new Division II attendance record for women’s soccer was a success. If it was any indication of how excited the Kearney community was for this game against Wayne State College, Loper fans were lined up at the gates at 4:30 p.m for a 6 p.m. kick off. Not only would the crowd witness the first ever Loper soccer game, but these fans could not have chosen a more exciting game to attend. 

“This game is for the Kearney community. We pride ourselves of the support for big events. Soccer is growing in this community, and this team is our way of embracing its presence,” said Shawn Fairbanks, Assistant Athletic Director for the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Rich Broderson, the “Voice of the Lopers,” gave a suspenseful pause before announcing the final tally that walked through the gates of Ron and Carol Cope Stadium. 3,227 fans helped demolish the old record of 2,004 set by the University of Central Oklahoma. 

“Tonight was nice because it shows the support that all teams at UNK receive. It’s special, unique and starts us off on a good note,” said Mike Munch, first year head coach of the Loper soccer team.

Only a win could have made the night any better. Who are the Lopers to disappoint? Morgan Abert, a sophomore transfer student from Division III Ripon College in Wisc., is one of two players for the Lopers that had experience playing in a collegiate game before Thursday night. 

She put her experience to good use as she scored the only two goals for the Lopers. Her first goal came at the 32-minute mark on a corner kick that sent the crowd into a frenzy after being silenced by a Wayne State goal only 11 minutes before. 

The cheering was thunderous as Abert scored the final goal of the game on a free kick from 30 yards out with 3:40 left on the clock. This goal pushed the Lopers to a one-goal lead, and as time expired, the cheering went from loud to deafening. 

A lot of hard work and money went into bringing soccer to UNK, but no one has had more influence than the Kearney Soccer League, who at half-time presented Athletic Director Jon McBride and Chancellor Doug Kristensen with a check in the amount of $10,000. 

According to Fairbanks, “special thanks go out to the Kearney Soccer League. Throughout the process, they were the main reason to add women’s soccer. This league has increased and should prove a solid foundation for this program in the future.”


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