It wasn't a thing of beauty, but Omaha Marian's win in Monday night's Metro Conference tournament girls championship game made one thing very clear.
The Crusaders are the team to beat in Class A.
Top-ranked Marian scored once in each half and rode a stingy defense to its 16th straight shutout in a 2-0 victory over No. 2 Millard North at Buell Stadium.
It's the second consecutive Metro crown for the Crusaders, last year's state champion.
“It's not pretty,” Marian coach Ed Dudley said. “It never is with Millard North and Marian. These girls just kept working, though.”
Margaret Begley scored Marian's first goal in the 38th minute, a looping attempt from about five yards outside the box to the far right of the goal.
The strike seemed to just keep carrying, all the way over the head of Millard North keeper Kylynn Moyer.
“You just say 'Congratulations' on one like that,” Mustang coach John Walsh said. “She hit it well and it went in.”
Marian tacked on another in the 63rd minute when Gini Yost beat Moyer to a high-bouncing ball passed ahead into the box. Yost got her right foot on it as Moyer began charging, flipping over the keeper's head for a score.
Crusader keeper Taylor Saucier, a Texas A&M recruit, kept a clean sheet for the sixth time in as many matches this season. The last time a team scored on Marian was in last year's Metro final, a 2-1 overtime win against Millard North.
Both coaches agreed that the feeling-out process Monday impacted the way the match was played.
“To me, it seemed like a really slow moving game both ways,” Dudley said. “That's just not the way we play.”
Millard North's best chances came on set pieces that missed wide and high — one in each half.
“We've got a couple of things to cinch up,” Walsh said. “But I really liked the way we competed, especially in the second half.”
The teams are scheduled to play again Thursday at Marian, and could meet again a week from Wednesday on the same Buell Stadium field in the finals of the Millard South tournament.
“These are always competitive matches,” Walsh said. “Hopefully we've got some of that (adjustment process) out of the way and we can go out and play soccer Thursday.”
Millard North (8-1) ........................... 0 0—0
Omaha Marian (6-0) ........................... 1 1—2
Goals: OM, Margaret Begley, Gini Yost.