A record-breaking team showed a record-breaking crowd a new direction of Omaha soccer.
Top-ranked Omaha South scored a goal in the 75th minute and made it hold up for a 1-0 victory over No. 3 Omaha Creighton Prep in front of an official-estimated crowd of 8,200 at Creighton's Morrison Stadium — the largest crowd to ever watch a soccer game in Nebraska.
The victory capped an unbeaten season that saw the Packers break a couple of state records and gave a program on the rise its first state title. It was the first championship of any kind for the school since 1990 and squelched Prep's hopes of becoming the first team to win three Class A boys titles in a row.
“We did this for our community and our school and our families,” senior forward Jose Marquez said. “South Omaha.”
It was Marquez who got the game-winner, a low left-footer from near the top of the box that beat Prep keeper Connor Tingstad to his left.
Marquez took a centering pass from Bryant Bustamante, shielded a defender on his hip to create space to his left and let one fire.
“I turned with it and just shot it,” he said. “It's like an instinct with my left foot. As I was falling, I saw the ball go in.”
The score set off a celebration near the South sideline and for all of those wearing red in the stands. Marquez ripped off his shirt and spun it over his head as he sprinted back toward the Packer bench.
“Awesome feeling,” he said.
South keeper Sayeg Moreno needed an acrobatic save in the final five minutes to keep the Junior Jays off the board. His one-handed swipe preserved the shutout for the Packers.
“I don't know,” Moreno said when asked how he was able to get his hand on that ball. “I took a step back, reached back and got to it.”
The Packers finished the season with 133 goals and 20 shutouts, both state records.
South coach Joe Maass said a switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation at halftime allowed his team to get more pressure down the sides.
Marquez and fellow forward Charlie Trautman handled the majority of the chances in the Packer attack.
“It opened up our width a little bit,” Maass said. “We thought we'd get a little more out of our backs. The key is we had to get our backs up and going. I felt like if we could get inside the box and be a little more direct up front, I thought a nicely placed ball would go.”
And go one certainly did.
Marquez's goal was only the second in a combined 280 minutes of soccer this season between the teams. The other was an overtime score in the first of the Packers' three victories over Prep.
“They run at you and keep running,” Junior Jays co-coach Jim Swanson said. “They deserved the game. They pushed and got the goal. They deserve to win. They deserve everything they got. They've had a fantastic season.”
In its other 18 matches this season, Prep scored an average of more than four goals per game. The Junior Jays failed to the find the back of the net in their three games against South.
Much of the credit went to junior do-it-all player Michael Jaime. The state's leading goal-scorer played on the back line for all three matches against Prep.
“He's just one of the best players in the state wherever you put him,” Swanson said. “That's the amazing thing about that South team. They can drop the leading scorer in the state to defense and still run at us and make it dangerous. Very dangerous.”
Maass, who has been at the helm of the Packers for the last 15 years, let a few tears out when he talked about what the win meant to the program.
“A lot of times I get really emotional when it gets to the game and it's all going on,” he said before stopping to compose himself. “Until tonight, I didn't really do that. It's been confidence out of this entire team the whole time.”
Omaha Creighton Prep (17-4) ................... 0 0—0
Omaha South (23-0) ................................. 0 1—1
Goals: OS, Jose Marquez.
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