Class A: Goals from four Packers lift Omaha South into semifinals

Omaha South senior Julio Rangel, 17, cheers for the Packers during team introductions.

The top-ranked boys team in the state found out Thursday what it’s like when a win feels like a loss.

Class A No. 1 Omaha South scored two second-half goals while down a player for a 4-2 win over eighth-ranked North Platte in the opening round of the state soccer tournament at Morrison Stadium.

But it was the reason that they were short-handed that had everyone talking afterward.

Things got interesting after South jumped  to a 2-0 lead with goals from Carlos Salazar and David Tapia-Salazar just 34 seconds apart in the match’s first four minutes.

North Platte drew to within one when Aroque Bryant converted off a corner kick in the 28th minute, but it was his second goal that was more newsworthy.

A Bulldog shot in transition hit the crossbar and bounced down off the back of the shoulder and upper arm area of South senior defender Johan Centeno, who was running into his own goal while trailing the play.

Centeno was shown a red card for what was deemed to be intentional handling in the box, setting up a North Platte penalty kick and putting South at a disadvantage.

He will now be forced to sit out of the Packers’ 3 p.m. semifinal match Saturday.

“That’s a huge player, and I hate to think that a kid has to end his career on some baloney call like that,” South coach Joe Maass said.

South goalkeeper Adrian Felix stopped the ensuing penalty kick before Bryant followed it up to level the match at 2-2 in the final minute of the first half.

“They just stung us right away,” North Platte coach Danny Whitney said. “Their speed and quickness caught us off guard. But we felt like we were going to maybe get an opportunity or two in transition, and we did. It was the effort of guys working together.”

South wasted little time regrouping and regaining the lead after the break. Abdi Adan scored less than eight minutes into the second half, and Omar Fregoso added another in the 70th minute for the final margin.

“I thought we dominated the game, and we even dominated it more when we had 10 on the field,” Maass said. “So we went to a three-man back and just continued to do what we do, which is to possess the ball and hopefully we get a goal.”

Maass said the Packers would have to adjust bodies because the loss of Centeno, a two-year starter in the back, but promised that his team wouldn’t change its thought process.

“We’ll still focus on our possession and we’ll still tighten up the back and we’ll still just continue to attack the way we do,” Maass said.

North Platte (11-5)............2 0—2

Omaha South (19-1).........2 2—4

Goals: OS, Carlos Salazar, David Tapia-Salazar, Abdi Adan, Omar Fregoso; NP, Aroque Bryant 2.