Class B: Ben Plascencia's second-half goal powers South Sioux City to title game

South Sioux City's Michael Virgen and Gretna's Jake Cover battle for the ball.

When an opportunity presented itself Saturday, Ben Plascencia took advantage.

The senior pounced on defensive miscue and scored the lone goal in Class B No. 4 South Sioux City’s 1-0 win over third-rated Gretna in the semifinals.

The Cardinals’ fourth straight shutout put them in Tuesday’s 5 p.m. championship against No. 1 Elkhorn South for the second consecutive season.

“We capitalized on the mistake,” South Sioux City coach Lupe Gonzalez said. “We didn’t play as well as we wanted to, but we’ll take it.”

Plascencia collected a ball from straight on just inside the box and froze keeper Rylan Penke, who was beginning to come off his line. Plascencia fired into the right side of the goal for his fifth of the season in the 45th minute.

“Just a marking miscommunication,” Gretna coach Dave Fisch said. “It’s a defensive breakdown. Teams are going to have them. It took only one tonight.”

The Cardinal defense limited opportunities from there. South Sioux outshot the Dragons 11-2.

“They were organized behind the ball. That was probably their biggest asset,” Fisch said.

Experience on the big stage was a factor, too, Gonzalez said. “The will to keep running, keep fighting, I think that’s what kind of kept us alive.”

Gonzalez said the Cardinals have gotten comfortable in 1-0 matches; they’ve won five by that score this year, including three of their past four matches.

“We’ve very done well at defending at 1-0,” he said. “I’m confident with the back line at this point.”

That unit will be leaned on in Tuesday’s championship as South Sioux City tries to avenge a loss in last year’s title match. It’s the fourth straight tournament appearance in which the Cardinals reached the final.

“It’s a different game now,” Gonzalez said.

South Sioux City (16-5)........0 1—1

Gretna (15-4)......................0 0—0

Goal: SSC, Ben Plascencia.