World-Herald high school soccer reporter Nick Rubek takes you through everything you need to know — and then some — about Friday's quarterfinal and semifinal matchups at the state soccer tournament.
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9 a.m.: No. 3 Gretna (14-3) vs. No. 7 Omaha Gross (12-5): A couple of programs with bright futures — Gretna has just one senior, while Gross has four — looking for success right now. Gretna had won 12 of 13 before a subdistrict final loss to Omaha Skutt. The Dragons have three double-digit goal scorers, led by sophomore forward Jake Cover with 21. Four Gross players have scored nine goals or more, with Joey Gallardo’s 16 leading the Cougars.
11 a.m.: No. 4 South Sioux City (14-5) vs. No. 6 Schuyler (14-2): A second-half goal was the difference for South Sioux City when two met for the subdistrict title last Thursday. The Cardinals, last year’s runners-up, have won six of seven entering state. Four of their five losses came to fellow state qualifiers. Schuyler has won three straight state openers. The Warriors have done it with defense. No team has scored more than one goal against Schuyler.
1 p.m.: No. 2 Omaha Skutt (14-4) vs. No. 5 Elkhorn (14-3): The hottest team in Class B faces the team that might have held that title a couple of weeks ago . This might be the best opening-round matchup in Class B. Skutt has won 12 of its past 13 and avenged the loss later in that stretch. The SkyHawks have five wins over state qualifiers. No other team in the field has more than three. Elkhorn won 12 straight before losing in its conference and subdistrict championships late in the season.
3 p.m.: No. 1 Elkhorn South (12-6) vs. No. 8 Crete (14-2): Teams that took very different routes to the state tournament. Elkhorn South faced only one Class B opponent during the regular season, opting for a predominantly Class A schedule that featured seven matches against state qualifiers. Crete met just two qualifiers all season. The Cardinals qualified for the state tournament for the first time with a shootout win over Columbus in their district final.
6 p.m.: No. 2 Millard North (15-3) vs. No. 6 Millard West (11-5): How’s this for symmetry between soccer blue bloods? Both teams are making their 13th straight state semifinal appearances. Each won 2-0 in the quarterfinals (North over North Platte, West over Lincoln Southeast). This will be the eighth meeting between the two at the state tournament in the past 12 years, with all coming in the semifinals or later. Millard West has won four of the previous seven. Millard North won 1-0 when the two squared off just more than three weeks ago. Expect another tight affair. Of their eight combined losses, seven came by one goal. A win would put Millard West in the finals for the first time since winning it all in 2015. Millard North has been runner-up the past two seasons.
8 p.m.: No. 1 Omaha Marian (17-2) vs. No. 5 Lincoln Southwest (13-4): A team looking to get over the hump facing perhaps the biggest possible roadblock. Southwest is playing in its fourth straight semifinal but is still seeking its first championship match appearance. All the Silver Hawks have to do to get there is knock off the two-time defending champion, a team that has won 12 of its past 13 at state. Marian looked the part in Wednesday’s opening round, routing Millard South 5-1. A win would put the Crusaders in their seventh state final in nine years. Southwest, meanwhile, is seeking that defining moment at the state tournament. Marian has been responsible for semifinal heartbreak for the Silver Hawks in two of the past three years.