Alex Prusa has the next four or five years to play at Creighton's Morrison Stadium, but he wanted one more night with his high school buddies.
The Omaha Creighton Prep senior buried a left-footed rocket in the second overtime Friday night to lift the Class A No. 3 Junior Jays to a 3-2 overtime victory against second-ranked Grand Island in a gem of a semifinal at the boys state soccer tournament.
The victory moves Prep into Monday's 7:45 p.m. championship game for the third consecutive season. The Junior Jays are seeking the first Class A boys three-peat in state history.
“That was by far the best high school soccer game that I've ever seen or been a part of,” Grand Island coach Jeremy Jensen said. “It was literally the heavyweight fight that you see on ESPN Classic.”
And it was Prusa's blast from a tight angle on the left side that was the knockout shot.
With the score tied 2-2 and a shootout looking likely, the Creighton University recruit found some space. A ball sent into the box just outside the 6-yard mark found Prusa's neon orange spikes. He took one touch, gathered and went from the tough left angle into the upper right corner of the goal.
“I was waiting for the defender to clear it out and he kind of bobbled it,” Prusa said. “So I just took a touch, it was right in the six-yard range, so I just let it fly. I just tried to compose myself, found an angle and let it fly.”
No one could stop that, Prep co-coach Jim Swanson said.
“It couldn't be a better guy to get that goal than Alex Prusa and that unbelievable left foot he has,” Swanson said. “I've never coached a harder-working soccer player. He's a special one.”
Prusa's goal capped a back-and-forth match.
Prep scored in the 40th minute when Prusa's free kick from the right angle about 10 yards outside the box got all the way to the face of the goal and was deflected by the head of teammate Justin Narke. The rebound was left on the doorstep for Mark Moulton, who put it away.
Jose Jacobo got the first equalizer 10 minutes later on a scorcher from just outside the box that eluded Junior Jays keeper Connor Tingstad and burned the back of the net.
A perfectly placed corner kick from Moulton found the head of Justin Schrager and gave Prep a 2-1 lead in the 62nd minute before Grand Island's Lucas Venegas tied things again with 10 ½ minutes to play in regulation.
The teams were scoreless the rest of the half and the first overtime before Prusa's heroics in the second extra session.
“In games like this, great players are going to make great plays,” Jensen said. “He did it.”
The Islanders had won a regular-season meeting against Prep in Grand Island. Swanson said his team knew after that one that any win against the Islanders would have to be earned.
“That Grand Island team is so determined,” Swanson said. “That is the word I would use for them. They're so determined to win, to win every ball, to play the right way.”
The mutual admiration didn't stop with the Junior Jay coach.
“They're an incredible team, as you saw,” Prusa said. “They challenged us on every single play, every single minute of the game. It's unfortunate that one of us had to be knocked out in this way.
“We're going back to the place where we've been working toward all season.”
Omaha Creighton Prep (17-3) ............... 0 2 0 1—3
Grand Island (15-1) .................... 0 2 0 0—2
Goals: OCP, Mark Moulton, Justin Schrager, Alex Prusa; GI, Jose Jocobo, Lucas Venegas.
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