HASTINGS, Neb. — Bellevue West’s Nicki Bernhardt scored two late goals to lift the South to a 4-3 win over the North in the 19th annual Shrine Soccer Classic on Saturday at Hastings College.
Bernhardt’s goal at the 72:42 mark tied the score at 3. Then in the 78th minute, she took a pass from Papillion-La Vista’s Chelsi Rohloff and put it into the net for what proved to be the winning goal.
“It was kind of a quick thing,” Bernhardt said of the game-winner. “Chelsi crossed it in and I knocked it in with my left foot. I was there. I was in the right place at the right time.”
Because of her two goals, Bernhardt was named the game’s MVP.
“We had a lot of girls who were good players on the team,” Bernhardt said. “I wasn’t expecting to come out on top.”
Bernhardt, a Hastings College recruit, said the Shrine Soccer Classic was an awesome experience.
“All these club teams we’ve played on, I mean since third grade I’ve been playing against all these girls, and now we got to play together and leave all our rivalries behind,” she said. “Now we’re together and having fun together.”
The North scored the first two goals of the game. Elkhorn’s Danielle Anderson scored first, and about a minute later, Norfolk’s Allison Erwin scored off an assist from Anderson just 7:30 into the game.
Lincoln Southeast’s Alissa Kohmetscher got the South on the board seconds later off an assist from Bernhardt.
Erwin added a goal in the 54th minute to give the North a 3-1 lead.
“We came out thinking we were going to win, so that got to us,” Bernhardt said. “But we stepped it up the second half.”
Lincoln Southeast’s Paige Nielsen scored with about 8 minutes left to pull the South to within 3-2. That set the stage for Bernhardt’s late-game heroics.
Grand Island’s Elizabeth Sanchez and Grand Island Northwest’s Jaimi Stelk played for the North team. Stelk, a Concordia College soccer recruit, had injuries that shortened her senior season with the Vikings.
Stelk had a knee injury and later in the year had to get stitches near her eye, but she said she enjoyed the Shrine Classic.
“It was really fun,” Stelk said. “It was a good way to end this year before I go to college. I got to meet a lot of new people, have a lot of fun and meet some future players.”
She also got to meet Natalee Stieb of Loup City, who was the honorary captain for the North.
“We were just playing for the kids, and that made it worthwhile,” Stelk said. “She (Stieb) is so cute. I love her.
“It makes you realize we’re all fortunate to be able to play our sport.”
North boys 1, South 0, SO
The North and South played 80 minutes of scoreless soccer. By rule, the teams then went to a shootout that the North won 4-2 for a 1-0 victory.
Sean Casey (Creighton Prep), Humberto Tapia (South Sioux City), Spencer Lindsay (Kearney) and Christopher Hauck (Gretna) all scored in the shootout for the North.
The South got shootout goals from Shaka Chol (Lincoln High) and Nik Stevenson (Papillion-La Vista South).
Goalkeeper Michael Powell of York helped the North get off to a strong start in the shootout by making a big save on an attempt by Erwin Solorio (Holdrege). Powell, who also had an important save late in regulation, was named the game’s MVP.
Northwest’ Adam Zlomke played for the North team as a midfielder. He was an important scorer for the Vikings this season, but said he didn’t mind being left out of the shootout.
“The pressure would probably have gotten to me and I would have missed it,” Zlomke said. “It turned out well for us.”
Grant Wahlgen of Gothenburg was the honorary captain for the North team. Zlomke said it was great to be able to play for the youngster.
“It’s probably my last soccer game I’ll ever play,” said Zlomke, who will attend Southeast Community College this fall and likely go to Nebraska after that. “It was a really good experience for me and an honor for me to play.”