From left: Gretna's Josh Hadden, Tanner Powell, Collin Malizzi and Zac Voss celebrate Malizzi's goal against Omaha Gross in the first half.

Cougars tie match with three second-half goals, but Gretna finally prevails

Lessons learned usually come in losses at the state soccer tournament.

So when Class B No. 3 Gretna survived blowing a three-goal lead in the second half of Friday’s opening round, the first two words out of Dragons coach Dave Fisch’s mouth summed up his team’s feelings.

“Huge exhale,” Fisch said.

Gretna can breathe again after surviving a 4-3 shootout win over seventh-rated Omaha Grossat Morrison Stadium.

After Nate Fibich put the Dragons up 3-0 four minutes into the second half, Gross got busy with its comeback.

Michael Monico beat Brendan Franke to answer 12 seconds later. Eric Yanovich took a centering pass from Monico in the 59th minute and pushed in a goal that cut the deficit to 3-2.

Trey Powers leveled the match with 14 minutes left in regulation, heading in the rebound of a Monico blast.

“Their attack was built off countering,” Fisch said. “As they kept scoring, I think it just got harder and harder for us to respond. That’s something we’ve got to clean up.”

Said Gross coach Rick Yanovich of his team’s second -half showing: “They didn’t quit. They had heart for 80 minutes.”

Two scoreless overtimes  led to a shootout that didn’t disappoint. Franke and Gross keeper Brandon Villanueva combined to stop the first five kicks. Franke actually got his hands on Gross’ first four attempts.

Jake Cover, Zac Voss and Ben Bickel converted the final three tries to seal Gretna’s victory.

Fisch said his roster, which includes nine freshmen and eight sophomores, showed signs of nerves in the second half Friday.

“It’s a different stage altogether,” Fisch said. “We’ve never played on a field this wide or a stage this grand. It definitely takes experience to learn how to win here. It’s never easy to win at state.”

Gretna is in the semifinals for the fourth time in six years and has a quick turnaround with a 6 p.m. Saturday match against South Sioux City.  The Dragons are 3-2 in the second match of back-to-backs this season.

Omaha Gross (12-6)..........0 3 0 0 0—3

Gretna (15-3)...................2 1 0 0 1—4

Goals: OG, Michael Monico, Eric Yanovich, Trey Powers; G, Jake Cover, Collin Malizzi, Nate Fibich.

Gretna wins shootout 3-2.

Sign up for daily headlines from NEPrepZone

Get a daily roundup of game recaps, player features and more in your inbox.