It wasn’t until the horn sounded Wednesday that Jeremy Jensen felt his Grand Island team was fully past last year’s disappointment.
“When that final whistle blew, you could kind of see our guys exhale,” the Islanders coach said.
Class A No. 2 Grand Island got goals from three players and helped put to rest any memories of 2012’s early exit with a 3-1 victory over sixth-ranked Papillion-La Vista South in the first round of the boys state tournament at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium.
Lucas Venegas scored a goal and dished out a pair of assists for Grand Island, which moves into the semifinals for the second time in three seasons.
His play near the sideline set up Jose Jacobo for the first Islander goal just more than 29 minutes into the match.
Venegas then did it himself late in the second half, taking a pass to the top of the box before firing across his body into the goal.
“I took it to my left and just put it away,” Venegas said.
His second assist came on a ball Venegas sent down the right seam to Jose Haro. Haro made his move and beat Titan keeper Cullen Fisch to give the Islanders a three-score cushion with 5 ½ minutes left.
“We knew they were really skilled up top,” Titans coach Dave Lawrence said. “We play defense. That’s our game. When they struck first we had to change our game plan for the second half.”
Papio South got one back just 18 seconds after Haro’s score when Samuel Roberts stopped and popped from 30 yards. But the Titans couldn’t crack the Grand Island defense to get any closer.
Jensen, who admitted that his Islanders team played with some nerves Wednesday, said they’d need a bigger effort in Friday’s semifinal against Creighton Prep if they want to keep the season going.
“We created all kinds of opportunities (Wednesday),” Jensen said. “If we want any chance of advancing to the final, we’re going to have to bury those opportunities.”
Papillion-La Vista South (10-8).................................0 1 — 1
Grand Island (15-0)..............................................1 2 — 3
Goals: PLVS, Samuel Roberts; GI, Jose Jacobo, Lucas Venegas, Jose Haro.
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