Kyle Mather didn’t need anyone to explain to him how good Omaha Creighton Prep was.
But on Thursday morning, he got a firsthand look at it.
Mather’s Norfolk team took a second-half lead on the second-ranked Junior Jays, but couldn’t hold on as Prep tallied three goals in under four minutes in a 3-2 win over the No. 8 Panthers in the first round of the boys state soccer tournament.
The defending champions got a serious scare, but move into Saturday’s semifinal against Omaha South.
Norfolk went with a defensive approach for much of the game, often dropping eight or nine players back on defense to combat Prep’s explosive attack.
“We knew Prep was probably going to control most of the possessions,” Mather said. “A 0-0 score for as long as we could get it was good for us.”
Said Prep co-coach Jim Swanson: “They had a great game plan, and it was working.”
But it was Mather’s bunch that actually scored the first goal. Efren Meza muscled in a loose ball less than 10 minutes into the first half to put the Junior Jays on upset alert.
It stayed that way for more than ten minutes as Prep racked up missed opportunities.
It wasn’t until sophomore James Narke netted a low burner near the top of the box with 18:50 to play that Prep finally got its equalizer.
“I just noticed I had a little time,” Narke said. “So I wanted to make sure I got something going at the goal.”
Sean Casey added a goal on a free kick from about 30 yards out 31 seconds later, and Narke capped the spurt on a nice shot off a corner kick. Brady Phipps scored Norfolk’s final goal with 1:27 to play.
“They’ve just got a ton of speed up top, and it’s tough to defend,” Mather said.
Norfolk (12-7) ..... 0 2—2
Omaha Creighton Prep (20-1) ..... 0 3—3
Goals: N, Efren Meza, Brady Phills; OCP, James Narke 2, Sean Casey.
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