Kearney boys score first soccer title in school history
No team outside of the Lincoln or Omaha metro area has ever won the Nebraska Class A boys state soccer championship.
"You couldn't script it any better, could you?" asked Kearney head coach Scott Steinbrook.
The Bearcats went through the defending state champion, Creighton Prep, who is also the most vaunted boys program in state history with 26 all-time appearances. Then Kearney topped the No. 1 overall seed, Omaha South, in the semifinals and followed it up with a 1-0 victory over No. 2 Omaha Westside.
"We told our kids, when the bracket came out, initially there was a little shock," Steinbrook said. "Oh my gosh, if were going to win a state championship, we have to beat arguably the most tradition rich programs in the metro conference."
Even more impressive was the fact the Bearcats did not allow a goal in 260 minutes of action at Morrison Stadium. Jacob Hardy earned his 12th shutout of the season and put three donuts on the board while in Omaha. Kearney blanked the oppostion in eight of the final ten matches.
The lone tally of the championship came on a corner kick in the 49th minute when Carson Schwarz went up and sent a beautiful header into the Westside net off a corner kick from Christian Dakan. It was the second and final goal of the tournament for the Bearcats.
"We didn't have to change anything. We didn't change our game plan, we didn't change our tactics, we just played how we played and the kids believed in it," says Steinbrook.
This was Kearney's 18th state appearance and they only played for a state championship one other time, a 2-1 loss to Millard South in the 2009 final.