Early and often.
That’s how the two-time defending champions did it Wednesday morning, and the result was a berth in the Class A boys state soccer semifinals for the fourth straight season.
No. 3 Omaha Creighton Prep scored in the opening minute, the final minute of the first half and three times in between to cruise to a 6-3 win over No. 8 Lincoln Pius X in the first round of the state tournament at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium.
The Junior Jays advance to Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal and get a rematch with No. 2 Grand Island. The Islanders won the regular-season match 2-1.
Five Prep players scored in the first half, the first of which came from Creighton recruit Alex Prusa on a 30-yard blast just 51 seconds in.
“We just reached into our old bag of tricks for getting our better players quality looks,” Prep co-coach Tom Hoover said. “They just kind of rose to the challenge.”
Pius’ Nick Pohlen got the first of his three goals to tie the match in the 17th minute on a shot off a spin move that dribbled off the fingertips of Prep keeper Connor Tingstad.
It didn’t take the Junior Jays long to respond. Fred Akoto and Vincent Nolette each scored on rebounds in a stretch of 79 seconds just moments later.
Justin Schrager scored from 25 yards out in the 29th minute and James Narke capped the half with a goal in the final 20 seconds to give Prep its 5-1 lead.
“When they move the ball around the edge like that Prep is a real threat,” said Pius coach Harlan Milder, whose team fell 3-2 in a regular-season meeting with the Junior Jays. “Given the opportunity, they finish.”
Narke scored just more than 10 minutes past the break to round out the Prep tallies. Pohlen then netted his team-leading 13th and 14th goals of the season during a 7 ½ minute stretch for the hat trick.
Hoover said it was nice to see the scoring outburst on the big stage. In its three losses this season, Prep scored a combined three goals.
“I’m not surprised,” Hoover said of his team’s offensive output, “but I didn’t expect it. That’s just being opportunistic and lucky.”
Lincoln Pius X (9-4).............................1 2 — 3
Omaha Creighton Prep (16-3).............5 1 — 6
Goals: LPX, Nick Pohlen 3; OCP, Alex Prusa, Fred Akoto, Vincent Nolette, Justin Schrager, James Narke 2.
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