A settled-in Elkhorn South proved to be an unsettling sight for Schuyler on Saturday night.
The Class B No. 1 Storm got goals before and after halftime from their leading scorer and rolled into Tuesday’s 5 p.m. championship with a 2-0 semifinal win over fourth-ranked Schuyler.
A day after winning the first state tournament match in program history, Elkhorn South took its postseason run a step further.
“That’s us,” Elkhorn South coach Adam Hooi said. “Controlling the tempo a little bit better, kind of doing the things that we know we were capable of. We were a little better than (Friday). It seems like we got more settled.”
Junior forward Erik Sandnes got the Storm on the board late in the opening half, flipping a shot over the head of keeper Jose Gonzalez. It looked as if Gonzalez got to the bounding ball and pulled it back before it crossed the line, but the assistant referee ruled that it had gone over the stripe completely.
The goal, with 32 seconds left in the half, seemed to take the wind out of Schuyler.
“We just got a little too high defensively just before the half and it cost us a goal,” Warriors coach Lyn Beebe said. “We just didn’t do enough good things to overcome that.”
Sandnes capitalized less than three minutes after the break, punching in a shot on the backside that beat Gonzalez and gave the Storm a 2-0 lead.
“I just tried to stay calm and composed,” he said, “and put it in the back of the net.”
Sandnes and company outshot Schuyler 22-6. Gonzalez had 14 saves.
Asked about his team’s leading scorer, who tallied his 21st and 22nd goals of the season, Hooi deadpanned, “He’s OK.”
“He showed up at the right time,” Hooi said. “He’s really instinctive, so that’s what he brings to the game other than what you can see, which is his skill.”
One more victory would make the Storm (18-0) the first unbeaten Class B boys champ since 2003.
“Their spacing is good. The way they can interchange with each other,” Beebe said. “They’ll make a run from the back and they’ll support well from front to back. They’re just a good soccer team.”
And one now playing pressure-free.
Sandnes said getting the first win — after Elkhorn South had been knocked out of the tournament in the first round each of the last two seasons — changed the dynamic.
“We had a lot of pressure going into that game,” he said, “but we prepared all week for it and got a result. We just want to stay composed (Tuesday) and try to get the win.”
Schuyler (14-5) 0 0—0
Elkhorn South (18-0) 1 1—2
GOALS: ES, Erik Sandnes 2.