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Former Saxony star Emma Brune taking pitch for final time with SEMO soccer

Southeast Missouri State soccer senior defensive midfielder Emma Brune was named one of the 10 Ohio Valley Conference Women’s Soccer Players to Watch this season. Photo courtesy of SEMO Athletics

Only one person in the history of Missouri high school soccer — boys or girls — has ever been named their classification’s player of the year three times, and that person is Emma Brune.

Brune did so as a member of the Saxony Lutheran girls soccer team through 2017 to 2019, while she didn’t have a senior season because of the coronavirus pandemic forcing MSHSAA to cancel her senior season in 2020.

Fast forward to today, though, and there’s no global virus to stop Brune from having her senior campaign with the Southeast Missouri State soccer team.

“Everything’s definitely been bittersweet lately, and I’ve been in my feels lately,” Brune said. “It’s been crazy, but I’ve been trying to soak in every moment and just not take anything for granted this season.”

Coming off an 8-6-3 overall season, Brune and the Redhawks have been picked to finish fourth in the Ohio Valley Conference behind Tennessee Tech, Southern Illinois – Edwardsville and Morehead State.

Each team in the conference had one player selected to the OVC Women’s Soccer Players to Watch list as Brune was chosen to represent SEMO. Last fall, Emma started every single game for the Redhawks for the third-consecutive season while not missing a single minute of action.

Through three years, Brune has played a total of 4,381 minutes and has recorded four goals off her 20 shots on goal from her defensive midfielder position.

“Being able to play all those minutes is all about recovery and what we do to prep ourselves and keep ourselves healthy,” Brune said. “I love playing as a defensive mid — I love going after people and winning the ball in the air.”

This is a far different position than the attacking role Brune was in as a Crusader, where she scored 95 goals and dished out 49 assists. Emma is still able to attack the goal at times, of course, for SEMO as she’s a threat to do so on corner kicks.

“I do enjoy my position here — I really love defense,” Brune said. “High school was fun for me, but during club soccer, I always played defense. That’s what I’ve been used to and what I always go back to.”

Defensively, Emma has led SEMO to record 18 shutouts through the 48 games she’s played and started. Individual honors for Brune include having been named to the All-OVC Second Team, All-OVC Tournament Team and All-Newcomer Team.

“Success is definitely made all in the offseason — we work super hard, and we lift a lot and run a lot,” Emma explained. “Championships are won then. I’ve certainly learned to just work on the little stuff and paying more attention to detail. The speed of play is also definitely a lot quicker than it was in high school.”

In her time as a Redhawk, Emma has only played in one OVC Tournament Championship match, which ended up being a 2-1 loss to three-time reigning OVC Champions SIUE her freshman year.

Along with it being Brune’s final year of playing soccer, it was also be the last season for one of her longtime friends and Notre Dame graduate senior forward Megan Heisserer. Megan helped SEMO win the OVC Regular Season Championship as a freshman in 2019.

“Playing for SEMO in my hometown has been super special — we have a great community, great group of girls and a great coaching staff,” Emma noted. “Megan and I grew up together and playing with each other, so it’s been really awesome to continue that. Then seeing these younger girls coming through has been really awesome.”

Since Heisserer and Brune have joined the Redhawks, several other area Southeast Missouri players have joined the team as five more besides Emma and Megan are currently on the roster. Those Redhawks are junior forward Katelyn Miller (Jackson), sophomore midfielder Abbey Klund (Jackson), freshman midfielder Justi Nelson (Jackson), freshman defender Kristin Anderson (Notre Dame) and junior defensive midfielder Grace Crowden (Jackson).

“It’s super cool because we bring the community together and that’s how we get our fans out here,” Brune said. “It’s just a really awesome experience and atmosphere.”

With the local atmosphere on the team and only graduating two players from last year’s squad, Brune is confident SEMO can return to championship form and possibly hoist a trophy in her final season.

One of Emma and the team’s goals this offseason was for each player to become as fit as they possible could. This is vital for a player like Brune whose durability is a huge part of her game since she’s never asked to leave the pitch.

“This year is definitely super special — as a team we want that ring really bad,” she said. “We haven’t got one yet as a senior class and that’s really what we’re pushing for this year. We are really focused on our fitness this year and just coming together as a team. Coming from a super successful program [eight OVC championships], we have that expectation, but we have a great group of girls and are really pushing for it.”

As a nutrition and exercise science major, Brune thoroughly enjoys the process of working out and eating what’s best for her as a college athlete and her overall health. She’s even gone as far as creating a monthly newsletter, where she provides up-to-date nutrition facts backed by evidence-based research, healthy recipes for cooking at home, tips as a Division-I athlete, workout ideas, meal plan ideas and more.

If one would like to receive this soon-to-be registered nutritionist’s monthly newsletter via email, here’s the link to sign-up for it: Brune has also published a book titled “Everyone’s a Cook: Easy to Prepare Healthy Recipes for College Students,” which includes over 60 recipes and can be purchased on Amazon in either Kindle edition ($9.99) or paperback ($20).

“I just really enjoy helping people, and I really struggled with nutrition my freshman year,” Emma said. “I want to help as many people as I can not go through what I did. It’s so important to fuel your body during college athletics and even college in general.”

Brune will officially kickoff her final season with SEMO starting tomorrow evening in a road match against Mizzou. The Redhawks will then host Grambling State on Sunday.

Regardless of what happens this fall, Emma wants to be remembered for making a difference on the field, working hard and being a better person.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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