LINCOLN — After a stretch of breathtaking victories, Nebraska players and coaches were more than happy to enjoy a breather Friday in the opening round of the NCAA women's soccer tournament.
Freshman Jaycie Johnson did all of the scoring in the Huskers' 4-0 rout of Southeastern Louisiana in the first-round matchup in front of 687 at the Nebraska Soccer Field.
Johnson tied an NCAA tournament record with her four-goal game. The freshman from Lake Winnebago, Mo., now has 17 goals for the 19-3-1 Huskers, who were back in the postseason for the first time since 2005.
Only four other players have scored four goals in an NCAA tournament game, and none since 2011. Nebraska coach John Walker said Johnson was ready for this kind of game on the biggest stage.
“I thought she was a player that was somewhat college ready,” Walker said. “She understands people set her up for goals, and she celebrates with a lot of passion with her teammates.”
Nebraska has won 10 consecutive matches and 17 of 18, including three nail-biters that earned the Huskers their first Big Ten soccer championship the previous week.
NU is expected to find out Sunday if it will host second- and third-round games Nov. 22 and 24. The winner of the Northeastern-Boston College match will be Nebraska's next opponent.
The Huskers took 35 shots against the Lions, including 17 on goal. Both were season highs, topping the 30 shots and 14 on goal they had in the season opener Aug. 23 against Southeast Missouri and two days later against Cincinnati.
Johnson said scoring her first goal so early — 3:45 into the match — helped make things much easier the remaining 86-plus minutes. Johnson scored off a give-and-go from senior Jordan Jackson, who fed the ball to Johnson from the right side.
“The early goal was good for us,” Johnson said. “To know we're in the lead and we can handle the momentum is nice. It just kept building from that, and the defense did a phenomenal job.”
Johnson gave the Huskers a 2-0 halftime lead when she dribbled through the Lions' defenders to the middle of the goal box and tapped the ball past Southeastern goalie Hope Sabadash at 23:36.
“That was the trickiest one because I had to find space to cut in and out of all the players,” Johnson said. “They kept dropping off me and gave me the space to turn and run. I was happy they weren't pressuring me.”
Southeastern coach Blake Hornbuckle said his team aimed to prevent Johnson and Mayme Conroy from connecting on passes. That didn't happen: Conroy was the forward credited with the assist on Johnson's second goal.
“We needed all of the little things to go right in order to steal something from the game,” Hornbuckle said. “(Johnson) is a very special, talented player.”
Johnson's second-half goals came less than four minutes apart. The first was on an assist from midfielder Samantha Areman that Johnson headed into goal, and the final one at 55:48 came on another cross from the right side by Jackson.
Southeastern squeezed off six shots, three on goal, making it an easy afternoon for Nebraska goaltender Emma Stevens.
Whether the Huskers get to host again next week or have to travel, Stevens said she and her teammates are happy to keep their season going.
“To have this game done and we're in the round of 32 is a great feeling to have,” Stevens said. “It would be great to be at home.”
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Video: NU's Jaycie Johnson after the match:
Video: NU's Jordan Jackson after the match:
Video: NU's Emma Stevens after the match: