Bearcats boys soccer makes history
The celebration for Kearney boys soccer's state title didn't end in Omaha as the team was greeted back in town with police escorts and the community cheering them on at the school.
It was a champion's welcome back to Kearney after a historic night at Morrison Stadium.
Since the first Class A boys soccer state championship was played in 1988, every title was won by a school out of Lincoln or Omaha.
The Kearney faithful made sure to send the boys off in style for their second state final in school history and first since 2009.
But everything changed Tuesday night.
"You got to believe in each other," head coach Scott Steinbrook said. "We talked about playing hard, playing smart and playing together and don't forget to have some fun along the way. We coach because it's fun, they play because it's fun and love the game."
Playing through perhaps the toughest schedule in the state tournament, the number four Kearney Bearcats found a way to upset the top three ranked teams in the state while not allowing a single goal.
"I mean it's great to come down here and make a name for myself," goalkeeper Jacob Hardy explained. "I always strive to be one of the best goalkeepers in the state and all the attention I'm getting I feel like I've done my part."
"Right now they're very emotional, very excited," Steinbrook expressed. "But on the bus ride home we'll digest it a little bit and try to get them to look back on it as a big accomplishment because they did it for each other."
After toppling the defending champs of Creighton Prep in a shootout, coach Steinbrook and his squad went full throttle in the semi's edging top seeded Omaha South, securing a spot in the finals for the first time in nine years.
"We were the underdog's obviously;" Carson Schwardz said. "I mean we're always the underdog's considering we don't usually have the ball really. So we have a chip on our shoulder we feel like and that's what pushes us to beat these teams."
With only Omaha Westside standing in their way of a title, the Bearcats once again put up a defense strong as an iron curtain around the goal, led by their keeper Jacob Hardy.
"I couldn't do any of it without my defenders and my mid-fielders," Hardy stated. "They got in front of just as many shots as I blocked so kudos to them."
Kearney still needed to find some offense to avoid a possible shootout situation.
Christian Dakan provided a perfect corner kick to Carson Schwarz to give the Cat's the lone tally of the match.
"I just went out to get it, I saw it and I was hungry," Schwarz explained. "As we said all year we got to stay hungry and my teammates all rushed over to me and that's the best feeling in the world. Doing it for my teammates."
Kearney finishes the season 18-2, never allowing more than two goals a game this season. They say goodbye to seven seniors from this years roster.