North Platte saved its best for last.
The Bulldogs sprung a stunner on Class B No. 1 South Sioux City on Saturday, beating the defending champs 1-0 in a shootout on their home field in the B-2 District final.
It clinched a spot in next week’s state tournament for the 15th-seeded Bulldogs.
“I thought today was the greatest effort that we made all year,” North Platte coach Daniel Whitney said. “We were committed and disciplined to defending well, hold our shape and shutting down the attack as much as possible.”
To say South Sioux City controlled scoring opportunities was an understatement, Whitney said. The Cardinals had numerous near misses through 100 minutes of play.
“We had a little luck on our side as well,” Whitney said. “When they’re able to put pressure on, they bring a lot of numbers into the attack. It was tough for large chunks of the game for us to transition and get our guys into the attack.”
Senior keeper Nathan Ostrander came up with a stop in the shootout and watched another South Sioux City attempt miss.
After a miss of its own in the second round, North Platte made it’s next three. Nick Borges sealed things with a make in the fifth round to give the Bulldogs a 4-2 win in kicks.
“We’ve been talking all year about a signature win,” Whitney said. “We hadn’t had one yet. I believed, and I think the boys believed it was time for that.”
They’ll play in their second straight state tournament when they open against second-ranked Omaha Skutt Wednesday at 6 p.m.
That’s heady territory for a team that down the stretch wondered if it would be able to secure a spot in the district finals.
“We were scraping to get into the top 16,” Whitney said. “I thought we deserved it with our play, but we just had to make sure we earned it.”
Whitney said the North Platte bus began its journey to South Sioux City at 5:40 a.m. Saturday.
“I could tell they were eager to play,” Whitney said. “I was very impressed with them professionally.”
It was the biggest upset in the six-year history of the district format for Class B, which scrapped the wild card after the 2013 season. South Sioux City will miss the state tournament for the first time since 2016, when it was competing in Class A.
North Platte (11-9)..................0 0 0 0 1—1
At South Sioux City (14-5)........0 0 0 0 0—0
North Platte wins shootout 4-2.
B-1 AT OMAHA SKUTT
OMAHA SKUTT 1, LINCOLN PIUS X 0
A Ben Bausback goal near the midway point of the first half was the difference for Class B No. 2 Omaha Skutt, who will play in the state tournament for the second straight season and the sixth time in eight years.
The SkyHawks (12-4) have won eight of night matches against Class B competition this season. Saturday’s win was Skutt’s third consecutive shutout and eighth overall.
B-3 AT LEXINGTON
LEXINGTON 2, SCHUYLER 1
Jesus Jimenez and Bryan Aldana found the back of the net and third-ranked Lexington advanced to the state tournament.
The Minutemen (13-2) have gone 12-0 against Class B opponents, outscoring them 72-4. They’ve won 13 of their last 14 matches.
B-4 AT SPIRIT PARK (COLUMBUS)
COLUMBUS 2, ELKHORN MOUNT MICHAEL 0
Second-half scores from Victor Salazar and Ivan Lopez were enough for Class B No. 5 Columbus.
The Discoverers (12-4), who had lost three of their last five before Saturday, will play in the state tournament for the third time in their last four seasons.
B-5 AT SPIRIT PARK (COLUMBUS)
OMAHA RONCALLI 2, COLUMBUS SCOTUS 1
After trailing at halftime, 10th-ranked Roncalli got second-half goals from Jack Guinan and James Borer to knock off No. 6 Columbus Scotus and earn a spot in the state tournament.
It will be the first appearance at state for the Crimson Pride (12-6) since 2004, and just the fourth in program history.
B-6 AT GRAND ISLAND NORTHWEST
GRAND ISLAND NORTHWEST 2, NORRIS 1
Second-half goals from Parker Janky and Mitch Vitera helped the Vikings upset seventh-ranked Norris and advance to the state tournament.
Grand Island Northwest (11-3) will be in the state field for the first time since 2012, and only the second time in 15 years.
B-7 AT DOANE COLLEGE (CRETE)
CRETE 4, BLAIR 0
Anthony Bolanos and Alexis Carbajal each had a goal and an assist and Class B No. 8 Crete earned a spot in the state tournament.
The Cardinals (13-2) also got goals from Jose Valadez and Travis Sweeney to knock off ninth-ranked Blair. They’ve scored four or more goals in 11 of 15 matches, including a string of five straight.
B-8 AT OMAHA GROSS
OMAHA GROSS 3, HOLDREGE 0
Luis Jeronimo scored twice and teammate Brandt Vomacka had a pair of assists to lead fourth-ranked Omaha Gross to the win.
The Cougars (14-4) won their ninth match in 10 outings and clinched their third state tournament appearance in four years. It was the 10th shutout of the season for junior keeper Brandon Villanueva, and his third in a row.