Class A: Matt Stute's first-half goal sends Kearney into semifinal

Grand Island's Moises Jacobo-Graves battles for the ball against Kearney's Royce Austen.

Coach Scott Steinbrook calls them “Kearney goals.”

They might not be the prettiest of scores, but they count just the same.

“Pitch it into the mixer and just bounce it around and just see what happens there,” Steinbrook said.

That was exactly what the Class A No. 6 Bearcats did for the lone score in a 1-0 win over Grand Island on Wednesday in the first round of the boys state soccer tournament.

“We’ll take the Kearney goals,” Steinbrook said. “We’ll take them anyway we can get it.”

Kearney moves into Friday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against second-ranked Omaha Creighton Prep, a 2-0 winner over Omaha South earlier in the day.

Matt Stute kept a loose ball near the goal line, eventually directing it in for the game’s only score.

“I even, like, whiffed it a little bit,” Stute said, “but it just got past him.”

Grand Island had multiple chances to secure an equalizer, the best of which came down the stretch in the second half.

The Islanders had a few quality looks but couldn’t crack sophomore keeper Jacob Hardy despite outshooting Kearney 19-6.

“To earn his first clean sheet at the state tournament is a big credit to him and also to the four guys playing in front of him,” Steinbrook said. “We absorbed a ton of pressure.”

Grand Island coach Jeremy Jensen said he had never seen anything like it — a team building such a big advantage of possession without scoring.

“To control so much of the game but not to be able to unlock it on the backside (is) pretty tough,” Jensen said. “Especially after they scored. Once they scored, you could really see that they had 10 behind the ball the whole time.”

Kearney had advanced past the first round of state only once in its most recent five state appearances. A showdown with Prep will be the first time the teams have met since a 2005 state tournament match.

“What else can you ask for?” Steinbrook said. “Playing Creighton Prep at Creighton University on a Friday night in the state semifinals. Our guys will be incredibly tired (Thursday), and then they’ll be incredibly excited to play on Friday night out here.”

Grand Island (11-7)...........0 0—0

Kearney (18-3)..................1 0—1

Goals: K, Matt Stute.

Nick covers high school soccer, wrestling and other sports for The World-Herald.

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