Despite both her parents having played soccer at St. Scholastica, Morgan Friday’s path to her hometown college took a circuitous route.

The Duluthian accepted a Division I scholarship at the University of Toledo, but Rockets coaches wanted her to redshirt as a freshman due to four knee surgeries, including one for cartilage replacement.

“They didn’t like how my surgeon did my surgery,” Friday recounted Saturday following the Saints’ season-ending 4-0 victory over Wisconsin-Superior at Saints Field. “I was so discouraged when they wouldn’t let me play when I felt 100% ready. I was cleared by my doctors and all my (physical therapists). I was competing with the freshmen at Toledo and then I went in for my medical evaluation and they told me I would have to sit out a year. I just packed up my stuff and left. I told them my family was too important to be in Ohio and not play.”

St. Scholastica was the beneficiary.

Friday scored three goals in Saturday’s UMAC title game — the Saints’ final competition in the conference before joining the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference next fall — giving her an amazing 27 tallies in nine games. She also assisted on the Saints’ opening goal by junior forward Kaiya Quam.

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St. Scholastica players celebrate after scoring a goal against the University of Wisconsin-Superior during the UMAC women's soccer championship on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at Saints Field on the campus of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)
St. Scholastica players celebrate after scoring a goal against the University of Wisconsin-Superior during the UMAC women's soccer championship on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at Saints Field on the campus of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

“She works so hard, her work ethic is unbelievable,” Quam said. “No one on the field matches her work ethic. She’s skillful, but what it comes down to is how hard she works.”

Friday, a junior midfielder who attended Faribault-based Shattuck St. Mary’s in high school, now has 73 career goals.

“I do put them in the back of the net, but without how good my teammates were this year I would never have had so many goals,” said Friday, who also had eight assists. “I like getting assists as much as goals.”

Whether she’ll score that often in the much tougher MIAC is unknown.

“Morgan is a special player and a great teammate and leader,” Saints coach Dave Reyelts said. “One of the things she said she wanted to improve upon from 2019 was to be a better playmaker. She doubled her career assists this year.

“She’ll do well (in the MIAC). Obviously it’ll be a bigger challenge and there’s some stronger teams there who will have a game plan for her come the fall. But so far she’s been able to score at will.”

Alexa Ickert (20) of St. Scholastica kicks the ball against the University of Wisconsin-Superior during the UMAC women's soccer championship on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at Saints Field on the campus of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)
Alexa Ickert (20) of St. Scholastica kicks the ball against the University of Wisconsin-Superior during the UMAC women's soccer championship on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at Saints Field on the campus of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Friday didn’t even tell Reyelts that she had transferred to St. Scholastica until she showed up for winter practices her freshman year. She toured Division II Minnesota Duluth, but instead decided to play at the same non-scholarship school as her parents, Josh and Bridget. Younger siblings Nolan and Bailey also chose St. Scholastica and play soccer as well.

Friday led Division III with 29 goals in 2019 and then COVID-19 forced a shutdown of the 2020 fall campaign. The spring alternative was shortened to nine games — all Saints victories — and since NCAA Division III is not hosting fall sports championships this spring, it marks the end of the season.

“I’m really proud how hard they worked all season long,” Reyelts said. “We talked about it being the longest preseason ever when you start practicing in September and don’t play games until April. They deserved everything they got this year.

“We’re really excited about the challenge. We’ve talked a lot about it as the year’s gone on and I know they’re excited and they believe, even though it’ll be a tougher challenge, they are still capable of winning championships in the MIAC.”

Morgan Friday (24) of St. Scholastica kicks the ball on goal against the University of Wisconsin-Superior during the UMAC women's soccer championship on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at Saints Field on the campus of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. Friday scored a goal on the play. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)
Morgan Friday (24) of St. Scholastica kicks the ball on goal against the University of Wisconsin-Superior during the UMAC women's soccer championship on Saturday, May 8, 2021 at Saints Field on the campus of the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. Friday scored a goal on the play. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

At least they’ll have Friday to begin the transition. Despite graduating with a nursing degree this coming Saturday, Friday is coming back to play in the fall.

“It’ll be a huge challenge for us,” she said. “At first it’s going to be difficult, but I know they’ll push through. It might not be great next year but for the years to come, our team is going to excel.”