• Photo Showcase: Nebraska state soccer, May 12
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Not even a nearly perfect game plan against Gretna could keep the Dragons from a berth in the state championship.
Class B No. 2 Gretna failed to crack a hunkered-down Hastings defense for 100 minutes, but had enough in the ensuing shootout to beat the seventh-ranked Tigers 1-0 Saturday in the semifinals of the girls state soccer tournament at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium.
With the win, Gretna moves into Monday’s 5 p.m. title game for the third straight season. Its opponent is the same team that’s beaten the Dragons each of the past two seasons — top-ranked Omaha Skutt.
“It’s always a privilege to get to the final,” Gretna coach George Behney said.
His team got there despite being shut out for only the second time all season. Hastings went with just one forward, electing to pack it in on defense. Gretna dominated both possession and opportunities, but couldn’t break through with a goal.
“They played one of the better games that they could have,” Behney said. “Mentally, certainly that gives them an advantage. Not getting one today was frustrating. Everybody wants to score a goal.”
Hastings coach Chris Pedroza was happy with how his team used its game plan.
“I believe we did well,” Pedroza said. “Gretna is a great team. They have great players all over the field. I don’t think it was a surprise to them that we played them like that. We had chances. Once again, we weren’t able to capitalize on the chances that we had.”
Both teams made their first attempts in the shootout, and then Megan Kruse buried hers to give Gretna a lead it would never relinquish. Both kickers made their shots in round three.
Taylor Wageman buried the Dragons’ fourth attempt for a 4-2 lead, and then Gretna keeper Justice Ross came up with a diving save to her left on Elizabeth Opperman’s shot to give her team the victory.
“We might have been overlooking them a little bit,” Behney said. “Luckily, we got a good result.”
And they did so without second-leading scorer Jordyn Wollenburg. The senior forward left early on with a shoulder injury Behney called a sprain and didn’t return. Behney said he wasn’t sure about her availability for Monday’s final.
For Hastings, it ends the most successful season in program history at 15-4. In seven previous trips to the state tournament before Thursday’s win over Platteview, the Tigers were 0-7.
Hastings (15-4) ............... 0 0 0 0 0—0
Gretna (17-1) ................. 0 0 0 0 1—1
Shootout: Gretna wins 4-2
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