A season unlike any before remained on its unusual course Tuesday night.
Top-ranked Omaha South continued its winning ways, outlasting No. 3 Omaha Creighton Prep 1-0 in a shootout (3-2) played in temperatures that felt more like late February than late April.
The Packers (17-0), already with the Class A single-season scoring record in hand, earned their 15th shutout of the season — two away from the state record for clean sheets in a season.
It also marked the first time that South has beaten Prep twice in a season, taking the second game of what has quickly become the top rivalry in high school boys soccer.
“With Prep, it's always this way,” South coach Joe Maass said. “It's always that close. Every time we play them, it seems like in the last five years, it's just been like this.”
Tuesday's showdown at Prep's Leahy Stadium was a near mirror to the match the two played in the Metro Conference tournament final two weeks ago.
Again the two teams played the majority of the first half in what felt like a feeling-out period. Just before the break there was a noticeable upshift in intensity.
Prep (12-3) had both quantity and quality when it came to chances in the second half, the best of which came when forward Mark Moulton, a UNO recruit, hit the crossbar with less than five minutes to play in regulation.
South tilted the field in its direction during the two overtime sessions, but 100 minutes of scoreless soccer gave way to the first shootout for either team this season.
Each side was stuffed in the opening round of kicks, and both proceeded to cash in their next two.
Prep's Max McGrath then saw his attempt sail well over the bar and Justin Schrager had his shot stopped by South keeper Sayeg Moreno, the latter closing things out.
“That's my job,” Moreno said. “I've got to protect my team from everything.”
While they haven't had to lean on Moreno in most games this season — only the first meeting with Prep was closer than two goals — Maass said it was nice to see they could.
“This group of kids right here,” he said, “there's just a lot of high-character kids on the team.”
Prep, the two-time defending state champion, now has three losses on the season, equaling its combined total over the past three years.
“We're learning that the field for the state tournament is wide open,” Junior Jays co-coach Tom Hoover said. “We're learning that nothing is guaranteed. Right now our best effort is going to be required every time.”
Both teams are expected to host district tournaments next week. Pairings will be released on Wednesday.
Maass, whose team has had Prep end its season the past two years, knows there's a bigger stage that awaits South.
“We still have to go down to state and win there,” Maass said.
Omaha South (17-0) ........................... 0 0 0 0 1—1
At Omaha Creighton Prep (12-3) ........................... 0 0 0 0 0—0
South wins shootout 3-2