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Gretna girls soccer gets rematch in search of first-ever Class A state title

Gretna girls soccer gets rematch in search of first-ever Class A state title

The Gretna Dragons girls varsity soccer team is performing extremely well in this year’s 2021 NSAA Class A state tournament, as they advanced to the finals to play Millard North at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18, for the trophy.

The Dragons entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed, behind only No. 1 Lincoln Southwest, and have earned the right to play for a championship after beating both Kearney Catholic and Lincoln East.

Gretna’s quarterfinals matchup against Kearney Catholic was played Wednesday, May 12, and ended in a 4-1 Dragon victory. The Bearcats may have been labeled as an underdog entering the match, but they proved worthy of their state tournament berth. Gretna only had a 2-1 advantage after the first period but managed to keep Kearney scoreless in the second en route to a 4-1 victory.

Senior Sarah Weber finished with a hat trick on the day, with three goals to up her season total to 47 — which broke the Class A girls record for most goals in a single season.

“I didn’t even know I broke it, I thought today I tied it.” said Weber. “But I’m just at a loss for words right now, I’m pretty proud of myself.”

Gretna’s following match in the semifinals was against a very tough one-loss Lincoln East team on Saturday, May 15, and ended in a shootout. The highly-anticipated matchup began with a Gretna goal off the head of Ava Makovicka after being set up by a corner kick.

The 1-0 Dragon lead would last throughout most of the first period, but the talented Lincoln East squad found the back of the net off of a deep free-kick from Haley Peterson and the teams would go to half knotted 1-1.

Both teams’ goalkeepers had themselves a busy second period, but neither would give up a goal as two of the states’ top-scoring teams would go into two overtimes with a 1-1 score. Gretna and Lincoln East both had opportunities to finish the game with goal opportunities in the second overtime, but a shootout was needed for the first time in the 2021 Class A girls state tournament.

Fans scurried their way over to the south-side goal of Morrison Stadium as the Dragons and Spartans prepared for penalty kicks. Lincoln East nailed their first PK prior to Weber being saved for a 1-0 lead, then the Spartans nailed another before Savannah DeFini made it 2-1 in the shootout. Another successful East PK followed by Sydney Zabloudil’s successful PK made it 3-2 before Gretna’s Rainna Daharsh stepped up with a huge save on East’s next PK to keep it 3-2.

With an opportunity now to tie the shootout, London DeFini found the back of the net to make it 3-3 in a huge swing of momentum. Both teams then traded PKs to make it 4-4 before an East player missed off the right post as Gretna’s Taylor Daffer fooled the keeper to seal a very emotional PK-shootout win in the semifinals.

“I went in to it [the final PK] very nervous,” said Daffer. “But I was also really excited and proud of my team for allowing me to get redemption on a PK that I missed earlier in the season.”

The missed penalty kick that Daffer is referring to came on May 6 in their only loss of the 2021 season against none other than Millard North in the recent district championship. The marquee rematch is slated for Tuesday, May 18, at 5 p.m. with the Dragons in search of their first-ever Class A state championship.

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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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