Gretna scored twice in the first 25 minutes and wasn't threatened very often by Gering's offense during Friday's Class B girls state soccer quarterfinals.
But coach George Behney figures his Dragons will have to play two better matches to repeat as state champions.
“We need to have a much improved effort if we're going to do what we want to do,” Behney said following Gretna's 2-0 victory. “It was pretty subpar.”
So what do the Dragons need to do better in Saturday's semifinals?
“A little bit of everything,” he said. “Our defensive effort needs to be stepped up. That's the main thing. I think we'll find a way to get in behind them at times, but defensively we need to be stronger, need to be better.”
Gretna's defense was good enough to record its 10th shutout of the season. The Dragons (13-4) also have a 1-0 shootout loss to Elkhorn South on their ledger — the Storm are up next in the semifinals at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Elkhorn South, in fact, has two wins against Gretna this season. The Storm won 1-0 April 4 before the shootout victory April 26.
The regular-season disappointment “does light a little bit of a fire,” senior Emily Roll said. “We got closer to them last time. We need to have better physicality. That team is really physical. They're going to run through balls and go for balls in the air.”
The Dragons tuned up for the semifinals by shutting out a Gering team that had scored four or more goals nine times this season. But against Gretna, the Bulldogs (13-5) didn't have a shot on goal until the 55th minute.
“We really didn't push up in the midfield in the first half like we would have liked. We sat back and played more defense,” Gering coach Lisa Freeburg said. “(Gretna) has good speed. They touch the ball well, and that makes a huge difference.”
Gretna got all the offense it needed during a six-minute span. Roll scored with 20:57 left in the first half, and then Megan Kruse tacked on the second goal at the 15:28 mark. The Dragons saw a second-half goal wiped out by an offside call, and another of their shots bounced off the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Gering was shut out for the second time this season.
“It was nice at the end to get some runs, get some offense, get some shots off,” Freeburg said.
Gretna now turns its focus to neighboring Elkhorn South. After handing Omaha Skutt its only loss in the district final, Gretna has had a week to prepare for state.
“Hopefully,” Behney said, “four days of training translate to a better product.”
Gering (13-5)..................................0 0 — 0
Gretna (13-4)..................................2 0 — 2
Goals: Emily Roll, Megan Kruse.
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