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With the 2019 Women’s World Cup entertaining and inspiring the nation, the Nebraska women’s soccer team decided to get some worldly experience of its own this summer.

The Huskers returned to Lincoln last week after a whirlwind tour of Scotland over a two-week span, which included five matches and a wealth of experience for coach John Walker and his veteran squad.

“From a team-building exercise, this was a success,” Walker said on his return to Lincoln.

“We promote a player-driven culture and the players took ownership of creating their itinerary for the trip in terms of places to visit and meals. They were decision-makers in the process. They understand the unconditional effort that goes into building strong relationships within the group, and I believe there was growth in this area.”

With the players taking control of the trip, the Huskers found comfort on the pitch over several training sessions and matches against top-tier teams. The Huskers faced three teams from the Scottish Women’s Premier League, including powerhouses Rangers FC and Celtic FC, as well as the Scotland U-19 team and the Glasgow Development team.

In a dominant string of games, the Huskers allowed just two goals over five matches on their way to a 5-0 record. They opened the stretch with a 7-0 drubbing of Forfar Farmington, which included a hat trick from Natalie Cooke, as well as several standout performances from the underclassmen.

Cooke led the team with five goals during their time in Scotland, while Emma Marcus and Theresa Pujado both scored twice over the trip. Senior keeper Aubrei Corder earned a shutout against the Scotland U-19s and shared clean sheets with Mayte Corral against Forfar Farmington and Celtic FC.

"The trip was excellent from a soccer standpoint,” Walker said. “The games were all competitive and challenging as we had three teams from the Scottish Women’s Premier League, the Scotland U-19 National Team, who is preparing for the European Championships, and finally, the Glasgow City Development team. We were able to work on multiple team shapes and diversify how we both attack and defend as team.”

The experience also gave several of the younger players some much-needed experience.

“Several players really made a jump from the spring season and the team progressed as a whole,” Walker said. “We played our best soccer in the final two games. The beginning of August, training camp, is only six weeks away and I feel that we can build on what we did on this Scotland trip.”

For some of the veteran Huskers, the trip provided a once-in-a-lifetime experience to travel the globe and show their talent in a country rich with soccer tradition and history.

“Scotland couldn’t have gone better,” senior Savanah Uveges told the Husker media staff. “Overall, the trip gave us very valuable time dedicated to mastering our style of play and we are returning to Nebraska as a team with more confidence and determination to be a dominating force in the fall. We had a great time together and made lifelong memories.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or scarlson@journalstar.com.

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