Photo Showcase: Nebraska girls state soccer Friday
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They fittingly walked off the field together Friday night. Arms slung around one another, ice taped to lower right legs and smiles lighting up their faces.
For Lincoln Southeast teammates Paige Nielsen and Hannah Wampler, revenge was sweet.
Nielsen and Wampler netted second-half goals and the Class A No. 3 Knights topped second-ranked Millard North in the semifinals of the girls state soccer tournament.
The scoreboard at Creighton's Morrison Stadium read the exact opposite score following last year's state championship match, something Nielsen said she remembered vividly.
“We were devastated,” said Nielsen, a North Carolina recruit. “I just remember how bad it felt.”
She played a large role in making sure that feeling didn't return Friday night. Millard North took a lead to halftime on Kate Morford's goal in the 30th minute, but Southeast coach Duane Johnson said he wasn't worried.
“I told the kids at halftime that one goal wasn't going to be enough,” Johnson said.
And it wasn't. Nielsen, who went down with an ankle injury just 10 seconds into the game, took a pass into the box in the 59th minute and from an angle on the right found the left side of the goal for her 38th goal of the season.
Less than six minutes later, it was Wampler's turn. The UNO recruit dribbled toward the middle of the field just outside the box, spun and — in one motion — poked a perfectly placed shot into the upper-right corner of the goal.
“I've done that more than once,” Wampler said. “I turned and looked behind me and no one was close, so I took a shot. It went right where it was going.”
Millard North coach John Walsh gave much of the credit to the Southeast midfield.
“When you have midfielders sending balls up to a couple of talented forwards like that, it's pretty tough to stop,” Walsh said.
Southeast, which hadn't been to a state final before last season, is in its second straight. There were a few questions afterwards about Omaha Marian, Monday's 7:15 p.m. opponent.
“I feel like it's going to be a battle,” Nielsen said.
But for at least one night, the Knights were enjoying some revenge.
“They wanted this one really bad,” Johnson said. “And they came through.”
Lincoln Southeast (18-1) ..... 0 2—2
Millard North (18-3) ..... 1 0—1
Goals: LSE, Paige Nielsen, Hannah Wampler. MN, Kate Morford.