GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- The Class B, No. 8 Northwest boys soccer team had a little bit of bad luck Tuesday against Holdrege.
Holdrege's Connor Bliss kicked the ball to Northwest's Jaden Palu. The Viking junior deflected the ball backwards.
However, the ball landed back in the goal. That resulted in Northwest falling for the first time this season in a 1-0 loss to the Dusters at Northwest High School.
Northwest coach J.J. Wagner said Palu caught a bad break.
“He was in the right position and tries to deflect it to go the other way. It just took a bad hop the other way,” Wagner said. “Our keeper (Austin Anderson) was going the other way and he couldn't catch up to it.”
The loss came after Northwest won two hard-fought games Monday in North Platte. The Vikings posted a 3-2 shootout victory over Scottsbluff and a 3-1 win over Gering in the North Platte Double Triangular and didn't get back to Grand Island until 9:30 p.m.
Wagner said that might have been a factor but not entirely.
“(The two games yesterday) didn't help our cause but I don't want to make excuses,” Wagner said. “Holdrege outhustled us to some balls today. But with us being undefeated, the target was on our back and they wanted to come in and put it to us. I give them a lot of credit.”
The Vikings had plenty of chances to get goals as they outshot Holdrege 15-10. Most of those opportunities came in the first half.
Brandon Bachle missed a kick high early in the game. A few minutes later Ryan Socha had a chance as he kicked the ball around a number of players but Holdrege goalkeeper Ethan Corkery, who had 11 saves, just got his hands on it.
Late in the first half, Austin Allen missed two headers. The first one went wide, while the second one went straight to Corkery. “I was talking to (Northwest assistant coach Jason) Gfeller after the game and he said Holdrege deflected a lot of balls,” Wagner said. “We really had our chances but couldn't take advantage.”
Despite that, Wagner said the first loss of the season is a good thing to happen for the Vikings.
“You can usually take a lot more out of a loss,” Wagner said. “In a loss, you can see what you need to improve on. Even in a close win, you don't usually see that.
“But overall, I thought we played very hard and hustled to the very end. The energy could have been zapped from our guys after the goal but it didn't, we kept battling so that was encouraging to see.”
The Vikings will host their home tournament Saturday. They will play No. 1 Omaha Skutt at 10 a.m. and Grand Island Central Catholic at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Holdrege 7, Northwest 2
The Northwest girls got off to a slow start and Holdrege took advantage.
Holdrege put up four goals in the first half, en route to a 7-2 victory over the Vikings.
“Give them credit because they came ready to play and we didn't,” Northwest coach Jess Topil said. “They stuck to us right away.”
Jordan Hoeft and Jenna Gillespie each scored two goals, while Megan Hunke and Morgan Hamling each had one. The other goal was on an own goal by Northwest.
After falling behind 4-0, the Vikings showed signs of life. Mikaela Kinne delivered a cross pass to Val Rubio, who was right in front of the goal. She kicked the ball in the back corner to put the Vikings on the board.
Kaitlin Brondel and Keene each had chances moments to give the Vikings another goal in the first half but couldn't get the ball in the net.
Jaycee Watson scored the other Northwest goal at the midway point of the second half.
In all, Holdrege outshot the Vikings 19-16. Northwest goalkeeper Katie Goesch had 15 saves.
Topil said she liked what she saw after the Vikings fell behind 4-0.
“We really didn't start playing until we were down four goals,” Topil said. “I wish we didn't put ourselves in that position but the girls did battle and that's what you want to see. There were a few bright spots out there and hopefully we can continue to build from that.”
Northwest will be back in action against Seward Tuesday at Northwest.