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Gretna boys soccer one win shy of first-ever Class A finals appearance

Gretna boys soccer one win shy of first-ever Class A finals appearance

The Gretna boys varsity soccer team’s season has officially ended after a 2021 NSAA Class A state tournament semifinal loss to Omaha South on Saturday, May 15.

The Dragons entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed, behind only No. 2 Omaha South and No. 1 Lincoln Southwest, but Gretna looked very dangerous in their first-round matchup against Lincoln Southeast after winning 5-0.

Gretna’s quarterfinals matchup against the Knights was on Tuesday, May 11, in what began as a slow-moving match before Carter Hinman found the back of the net with about 10 minutes left in the first period. The Knights would hold off the highly-touted Gretna offense for the rest of the period for a 1-0 halftime score.

Now with a slight lead, Gretna began to put their offensive arsenal on full-display. Gretna’s Patrick Long, a Midland University commit, put the Dragons up 2-0 early in the second period. Lincoln Southeast began to get more aggressive but that only allowed more opportunities for Gretna.

The Dragons got another goal off a corner kick to lead 3-0 and then Hinman scored for the second time to extend the lead to four. Joseph Burns also added a late goal for the Dragons off a header to cruise to a 5-0 victory in Gretna’s first-ever Class A state tournament appearance.

Gretna’s semifinal matchup on Saturday, May 15, was against Omaha South in a rematch from April 28 when the Packers handed the Dragons a 4-1 loss on their own pitch. Saturday’s contest would yield similar results, as the power-house Packers got off to an early 1-0 start behind a mental lapse from the Gretna defense in the first period.

For the second-straight game Hinman broke the ice for Gretna, scoring an equalizer late in the first and the match would stay 1-1 at half. With a trip to the championship on the line, things began to get chippy on the pitch in the second half.

A majority of the half would go by before the next goal was scored and that ball had Omaha South’s Bryan Cruz’s name all over it, as he found the back of the net to set off a Packer celebration. Despite several offensive opportunities, the Packers’ defense was stingy and their goalkeeper played extremely well as Omaha South added a late goal with about six minutes remaining to seal a 3-1 win.

“When you go down one its tough to battle,” said head coach Tyler Ortlieb, “But I thought the boys came back real well and at halftime we knew it was whoever scored last and that’s what it was going to be.”

The Dragons end their historic season with a 16-4 record after their first-ever NSAA Class A state tournament appearance and their first-ever Class A state tournament win. Coach Ortlieb and staff will be saying farewell to nine seniors on their current roster.

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After extremely successful spring seasons for both the boys and girls Gretna varsity soccer teams, it was no surprise that the Dragons featured six players in this past weekend’s 2021 Nebraska Class A high school soccer senior showcase on Saturday, June 5.

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