KEARNEY — The fourth-ranked Kearney High boys soccer team is making its fourth-straight appearance to the state soccer tournament after downing Lincoln Southeast 3-0 Wednesday at Foster Field.
The first 30 minutes was a defensive battle. But with 13 minutes left, senior Ryan King found the back of net after a free for all in front of the Knights’ goal to give Kearney (17-1) a 1-0 lead at halftime.
“We felt if we could score first and get that first goal it would give us control of the game. Southeast is a defensive-orientated team and we really limited what they could do offensively,” KHS coach Scott Steinbrook said.
Ten minutes into the second half, senior Nate Mishou forced a turnover just outside Southeast’s (9-8) penalty box and caught goaltender Taylan Schoen out of position to put the ball in the back of the net to give the Bearcats a 2-0 lead.
Senior Spencer Lindsay converted a penalty kick — twice— to give Kearney a 3-0 lead. It appeared Lindsay scored on the first kick, but a Kearney player entered the penalty box before the conversion. The goal was disallowed, but he was able to score on the second kick.
After the win, Lindsay stood at midfield holding the district championship plaque, soaking in the moment.
“This is awesome, it’s our fourth district title in a row,” he said. “That’s so special. This group worked so hard, we deserve it and we are excited to go to Omaha again. Four years of hard work to earn a district plaque is worth it.”
Mishou had similar feelings.
“I’m so excited right now, it’s the fourth time for the seniors. Going to state four years in a row is exciting,” he said. “We are going to make the most of it. We need to play hard and come back with some victories.”
Steinbrook is happy how his team won their game.
“To win a district championship game 3-0 with a little bit of breathing room is an awfully good feeling. We have had too many close calls on Foster Field this year, this one feels good,” he said. “This senior class has won four straight district championships. This senior class has never lost a soccer match at Foster Field. This senior class is getting ready to play in their fourth consecutive state soccer tournament. I really do like this senior class, it’s special, (assistant coach Robert) Mishou has coached these kids since they were fourth graders.”
Since this Bearcat squad has state tournament experience, that’s seen as a positive.
“Best thing is they’ve been there before,” Steinbrook said. “Sometimes when teams qualify for the first time, like in 2005, we were nervous and just happy to be there. These guys have been there before, they know what to expect. We are 17-1 and I almost feel like we are going under the radar. We’ve been hearing about Creighton Prep and Grand Island all year and how they are going to rematch from last year. That’s fine, we are confident going in and being under the radar is fine with me.”
The state tournament starts May 10 on the campus of Creighton Univesity in Omaha.