The Papillion-La Vista South girls varsity soccer team went back to the NSAA Class A state soccer tournament this year as the No. 6 seed against No. 3 Lincoln East in a quarterfinals matchup on Wednesday, May 12.
News broke about half an hour prior to the first whistle that Titans’ senior Allie Napora, future Nebraska Cornhusker, would return to action in her first game back since injuring her right arm earlier this season. Her exciting return was quickly hushed as the first period was mostly a stalemate, neither team was able to garner many offensive opportunities until there was one single minute remaining on the clock.
With plenty of Titans attacking the box in a scrum for possession of the ball, Lincoln East managed to score a goal on themselves with time ticking down to give Papillion-La Vista South a 1-0 lead just before halftime. The Titans’ first goal of the tournament might have caused a slight emotional lapse as the Spartans’ Haley Peterson hit the equalizer just seconds later and knotted the score 1-1 before the half was over.
Despite being out of the lineup for almost a month, Napora quickly found her stride and nailed the back of the net early in the second period for her first goal of the match. Lincoln Easts’ Kayma Carpenter then answered quickly with a goal of her own to tie it back up 2-2. Napora and Carpenter then caught fire on the pitch and traded yet another pair of goals to make it 3-3.
Quickly escalating to one of the more exciting games of the state tournament, Lincoln East showed exactly why they only have one loss — because of its high-powered offense. Peterson nailed another goal for Lincoln East as they went up 4-3 about halfway through the second period and then teammate Briley Hill hit another to go up 5-3 with 12 minutes left on the clock.
Papillion-La Vista South’s Savanna Solomon scored the last Titan goal of the day to make it 5-4 late, but Lincoln East would add another goal before the buzzer to put the nail in the coffin in a 6-4 win. Despite the tough loss, the Titans’ hard-fought effort was nothing to hang heads about.
“It was amazing [to return],” said Napora, “These girls have been there with me through the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through in the middle of the season and they’re just amazing.”
The Titans’ loss to Lincoln East marks the first time a girls varsity soccer team has lost a state tournament match when scoring four or more goals.
“I have never been in a game that was as back and forth the way that one was,” said head coach Jacob Watson, “I just give credit to all the girls on both sides because it’s a difficult thing to watch something go bad and then react with more energy and keep it going.”
The combined 10 goals in the match is by far the most goals scored thus far in either the boys or girls 2021 state tournament. The Papillion-La Vista South Titans finished with a 13-5 record and, for the second time in their last two state tournament appearances, were eliminated in the quarterfinals.