North Platte called on its short state tournament experience from a year ago to extend its stay this time.

The Class B No. 4 Bulldogs looked comfortable in Morrison Stadium on Friday, beating fifth-ranked Bennington 3-0 in the opening round.

The win puts North Platte, which lost in the opening round of state last season, into Saturday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against No. 2 Omaha Skutt.

“The girls have come down here with a confidence that they didn’t have last year when they were here,” North Platte coach Sarah Kaminski said.

They certainly looked settled in through much of the match, especially after Callie Haneborg broke the ice in the 16th minute. The junior forward got into the box and found an angle to the right side of the goal for her 22nd of the season.

Meilisha Hou doubled the lead six minutes into the second half on a spinning shot off a corner kick from Dejanae Stark.

Gracie Haneborg added another less than three minutes later on a long free kick that went off the fingertips of keeper Grace Tetschner and into the back of the net. It was Haneborg’s 27th of the year.

“We were connecting passes and we were pushing the ball and attacking as a team and being confident with our attack instead of sitting back,” Kaminski said.

It was probably her defense’s best effort of the year, Kaminski said. North Platte’s back end did its part, limiting Bennington’s scoring duo of Miley Prine and Mia Hurt to very few chances.

“We had to keep track of where they were at,” Kaminski said.

North Platte outshot the Badgers 18-8.

“I think they outpossessed us through the midfield,” Bennington coach Alex Mathers said. “And you didn’t see a lot of standing from their midfielders, and I feel like we did a little bit of that today.”

It was Bennington’s first state tournament appearance. Mathers said she thought that had an impact at times.

“I’m proud of them to get here because no one expected us to do this this year,” Mathers said.

A semifinal win Saturday would put North Platte into its first state final. Standing in the way, though, is Skutt, which has played in the past three Class B championship matches.

“When we watched them play, we saw that they were kind of forward towards the middle,” Hou said, “so we’ll need to be able to push out wide.”

Kaminski said her group will need more of the same defensively, too.

“Everyone across the field, 1-v-1 defending is so important at this point in the season,” she said. “We’re going to have to be really patient, yet aggressive tomorrow.”

Bennington (15-4)...........0 0—0

North Platte (18-2)...........1 2—3

Goals: Callie Haneborg, Meilisha Hou, Gracie Haneborg.

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