Kearney boys face difficult task each time they play at state

The Kearney boys soccer team holds the A4 district championship plaque up after winning it on May 4, 2017 (NTV News)

Over the course of the last 13 years, the big story for Kearney boys soccer is when the Bearcats are not among the elite eight competing at the state tournament.

It's only happened three times.

Kearney qualifying once again with last week's A4 district title win over Omaha Central, marking the 10th trip for the Bearcats since it started with a 2005 appearance. The 'Cats have now qualified 17 times, tied for third most among all Class A boys teams in Nebraska history.

No stranger to advancing through to the big stage, Kearney struggles a little more once they are there, though.

"It's such a different atmosphere from what we're used to," said sophomore goalkeeper Jacob Hardy.

"We have to travel three hours while a lot of Omaha schools can just ride in their cars and just show up to (Morrison) Stadium," Hardy continued.

Outside of a 2009 runner–up performance, Kearney has never gotten to the championship game and are 9–16 all–time.

"It's a tough tournament," said head coach Scott Steinbrook. "We got bounced by (Omaha) Westside last year 1-0, got beat by a late goal by Millard West the year before, but we're right there. I think our kids are excited to get back down there again."

Kearney has only one win in their last five state visits to Creighton's Morrison Stadium.

"I think it will be key for us this year, our motivation, because we've come back a lot of times this year and we've shown the will and determination that we can compete with the top teams in the state," Hardy says.

This year, the Cats open with a very familiar foe. Grand Island. Kearney and "dem GI boys" play Wednesday morning at 11:00.

The Bearcat faithful are sending Kearney out in style this year, Tuesday, 1:45 p.m. from the high school and down 11th Avenue.

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