Lincoln Pius X will be in a position Saturday that it hasn’t been in program history.
“Rarefied air, if you will,” Thunderbolts coach Steve Andersen said.
Class A No. 6 Pius cashed in two second-half goals and will head to Saturday’s semifinals behind a 2-0 first-round win over seventh-ranked Bellevue West on Thursday at the state soccer tournament at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium.
The Thunderbolts, up from Class B for just this season, will play in their first Class A semifinal against one of the state’s most tradition-rich programs — second-ranked Millard North.
“We’re up in the top tier of Class A right now,” Andersen said. “Hopefully we can crack this and bring a trophy back to Lincoln.”
The first 40 minutes were played at a pretty even clip. But Pius forward Emily Arrigo’s strong run into the box six minutes after the break turned things in favor of the Thunderbolts.
Arrigo was taken down and Pius was awarded a penalty kick, which Sarah Nickman promptly put in the left side of the goal.
“That was Emily Arrigo just making a good hustle play,” Andersen said. “We always tell the girls good hustle gets rewarded, and that certainly did. Sarah put it in and we’re up 1-0 and it’s off to the races.”
Arrigo tallied one of her own in the 68th minute when she got by a defender and drove a hard, low burner in for a goal.
“(Pius) played a great game,” Bellevue West coach Gauthier Schlerizin said. His team was making its first trip to state in 25 years. “I think we showed our inexperience a bit. We were nervous. We kept trying to play our way and it just didn’t work out for us. They just won the game — that happens.”
Pius will get a second chance at Millard North in the 3 p.m. semifinal Saturday. The Mustangs won the regular-season meeting 2-0 in mid-March.
“I think we had a shot then and I think we’ve got a good shot now,” Andersen said. “We’ve just got to play within ourselves.”
Bellevue West (12-6)..........................0 0 — 0
Lincoln Pius X (12-3)..........................0 2 — 2
Goals: Sarah Nickman, Emily Arrigo.
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