After posting shutouts in its first two games, Class A preseason No. 4-rated Grand Island Senior High had to show how it responds to giving up a goal Tuesday against Lincoln Southeast.
Well, the Islanders respond quickly.
Zach Joutras got behind the Islander defense and scored to pull the Knights within 2-1 just 3:46 into the second half.
But Grand Island needed just 12 seconds to get its lead back up to two, and that momentum boost provided by Lucas Venegas was all the Islanders needed to post a 3-1 victory.
Venegas went around a pair of Lincoln Southeast defenders before lasering a shot into the net from 30 yards out, and neither team would score again over the final 36:02.
“I’m just glad Lucas took the game upon himself to get that momentum back for us,” Grand Island coach Jeremy Jensen said. “Southeast is a really good team. They’ll more than likely make it into that state tournament.
“They really gave us a good test tonight, so I was happy to get that momentum back. I didn’t want it to linger too long, just letting it build and let them continue to believe they could win that game.”
The Islanders (3-0) did score twice in the first half, but it wasn’t the type of performance to leave Jensen satisfied.
“It was bad on many different levels,” he said. “We were ahead 2-0 at halftime, but I really felt like Southeast outplayed us in the first half. We went in to halftime and had some pretty heated discussions. We were disorganized and basically seemed disinterested.
“Fortunately we played well enough to win a game but not well enough to win a state championship, that’s for sure.”
Saul Castillo converted on a free kick from 21 yards out to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 22:16.
Elmer Garcia then got his foot on a Jose Jacobo corner kick to deflect the ball into the goal at 37:52.
Joutras quickly gave Lincoln Southeast (0-1) its short-lived momentum boost in the second half and end Grand Island’s scoreless streak at 203:46 to begin the season.
“I was really disappointed,” Jensen said. “We feel that defensively with the quality of the players we have back there, we don’t expect anybody to put the ball in the back of the net.
“The goal that they scored on, it happens. Realistically they probably should have had one in the first half. They had a ball right at the end of the half that on a set piece bounced inside the six (yard box). Our guys in back and our goalkeeper can’t let that happen.”
Jensen breathed a sigh of relief following the game.
“I’m glad the game’s over with,” he said. “That’s one of those ones you just want the clock to run out so you can regroup.”
Lincoln SE 6, Grand Island 0
Class A preseason No. 9-rated Lincoln Southeast scored three times in the first 6:45 en route to a 6-0 blanking of Grand Island Senior High.
Meredith McManaman scored the first of her two goals 2:45 into the game. Sydney Taylor followed at 4:21 and Hannah Jurgens at 6:45.
After that outburst, the Islanders (0-3) held the Knights (1-0) scoreless for the next 31:01.
“The first seven minutes I think they were nervous coming in against a team they hadn’t played, especially at this level,” G.I. coach Debora Carpenter said. “But they pulled it together.
“I think you can see in each game we’re taking steps forward. We’re doing a lot better on our defense.
“Yes, we still have a lot to work on, but you can see some of the progress coming forth and we’re pulling together as a team.”
Lincoln Southeast tacked on two more goals late in the first half. Bianca Perry converted a penalty kick at 37:46, and McManaman made it 5-0 with just 11 seconds left before halftime.
Perry’s sliding goal capped off the scoring 1:26 into the second half.
Carpenter said Kayla Solarzano is making quick progress after moving to goalkeeper from the midfield.
“Before Saturday’s game (against North Platte), Kayla Solarzano was only practicing in goal one day,” she said. “Today, between Saturday and then, you could see a tremendous change. It did take her a little bit, but she came out and she’s going after the ball.
“I think we’re headed in the right direction.”