Millard West found another gear in the second half Thursday, and the Wildcats rode it to a win at the state tournament.
The Class A No. 3 Wildcats got a pair of goals after halftime to beat fourth-ranked Westside 2-0 in the first round at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium.
The reward for Millard West is a third meeting with defending champion and top-ranked Omaha Marian in Saturday’s semifinals.
“I still don’t think we’ve played our best match yet,” Millard West coach Jacque Tevis-Butler said. “Hopefully that comes Saturday.”
The Wildcats are into the semifinals thanks to a strong effort after the break.
Megan Waldron converted a penalty kick against Westside keeper Cheyenne Janicek, who was whistled for a foul in the box on a 50-50 ball around the midway point of the second half. Janicek had replaced starter Kayln Kaslon, who was injured earlier in the half but later returned to the game.
Emma Cuda scored the insurance goal with six minutes to play, beating Kaslon one-on-one.
“I think we were patient,” Tevis-Butler said. “The first half we were a little bit deer in the headlights. This is a group that doesn’t have much experience down here. I thought after halftime we settled down and played our game.”
Westside coach Nathan Moseley called the penalty kick a “backbreaker,” but said he saw a different level from Millard West after halftime, too.
“They came out really strong in the second half,” Moseley said. “That was the difference.”
Wildcat keeper Jordan Cassalia, an Army recruit, registered her ninth shutout of the season.
Millard West will play in the semifinals for the eighth straight season. Marian beat the Wildcats twice in the regular season in a span of five days.
What will be the key for Millard West in round three?
“No. 1, we have to forget the other two matchups,” Tevis-Butler said. “We’ve just got to be organized defensively and willing to attack.”
Omaha Westside (9-8)........................0 0 — 0
Millard West (11-3)............................0 2 — 2
Goals: Megan Waldon, Emma Cuda.
Contact the writer:
402-850-0781, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/nickrubek