Millard North-North Platte

Millard North's Jocelyn Anderson and North Platte' Shelbee Clow battle for the ball during the first half.

Persistence paid in a perfect place Wednesday for Millard North.

The Class A No. 2 Mustangs got a pair of second-half goals to beat 10th-ranked North Platte 2-0 in the opening round Wednesday. Millard North advanced to Friday’s semifinal round for the 13th straight season.

Both scores were produced by an onslaught of offense from Millard North, which outshot the Bulldogs 20-6.

Mustang coach James Abueg said the halftime message was simple.

“I just said, ‘It’s going to find the back of the net. Just keep shooting.’ ”

And that’s what his team did. Riley McHugh’s attempt from 25 yards out had some English on it, finding the left side of the net. It was the first goal of the sophomore defender’s career.

“This is a great place to do it,” Abueg said.

Emerson Henry gave Millard North some breathing room with just less than eight minutes left, beating a defender right of the goal, moving in a little closer and blasting past keeper Leslie Borges.

“North Platte’s a great team,” Abueg said. “We had to step our game up to match their level.”

Borges had a busy afternoon, coming up with 15 saves to keep things close. Bulldogs coach Sarah Kaminski liked her team’s effort and energy, even when falling behind.

“I’m so proud of these girls,” Kaminski said. “I really think that our girls competed at the state level today. We had a couple of missed opportunities, and then we had a couple of spots where it was one step up from them and one wrong step from us. We let them build a couple of times and bring the ball down on us.”

Millard North now faces a Millard West team that also is in the semifinals for the 13th straight year. The Mustangs won the regular-season meeting 1-0 three weeks ago.

“So they’re going to have a little chip on their shoulder,” Abueg said.

His team, which has won nine of its last 10, is seeking its third straight state finals appearance and ninth since 2006.

“I think we’re at that gear,” Abueg said. “We’re right where we want to be.”

North Platte (12-4)...........0 0—0

Millard North (15-3)..........0 2—2

Goals: MN, Riley McHugh, Emerson Henry.

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