Gretna struck quickly in the opening minutes that allowed them to fight through a rough first half and then break open the scoring in the second half with a trio of goals against the fifth seed Lincoln Southwest.
In the end, the fourth-seeded Dragons downed Lincoln Southwest 4-2 in the first round of the Class A State Tournament Wednesday at Morrison Stadium to advance to the second round.
“We knew 1-0 wasn’t going to win us the game. I did not like the play of the first half and, as a staff, we talked about it,” Gretna head coach Tyler Ortlieb said. “We made a few player adjustments and, in essence, we knew if we got to where we needed to be, we would be just fine.”
Gretna’s Nate Fibich scored twice, while Micah Bernal and Jake Cover each added one. Goalie Brendan Franke stopped eight shots in net with crucial stops in the 5th, 15th, 19th, 27th and 42nd that forced the junior to leave his feet.
“Going through the year, we’ve scored a lot of goals, but I’ve been more impressed with how we’ve defended as a team,” Ortlieb said. “For us, when we win the ball high, it helps with how we play. So our front runners are able to score often and frequent because we are organized defensively and it comes from the back to forwards.”
Gretna quickly ended the scoreless game less than two minutes into the start. Fibich took the ball straight up the middle and found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Lincoln Southwest controlled most of the first half after the goal to head into halftime with the Dragons leading by one.
“We knew the first goal was going to be important. Prominently, we’ve been able to score early and take a little bit of pressure off,” Ortlieb said. “But I was not impressed with the way we played in the first half. I think we let the moment get to us and we sat a little bit.”
The momentum swung back to Gretna to start the second half. A through pass from John Cover from midfield to the left side of the goal box, eventually, found Fibich for his second score of the game in the 48th minute.
Two minutes later, Bernal scored to move Gretna’s lead to 3-0. The Dragons attempted two shots on goal that were deflected when the second shot landed at the feet of the sophomore for the put-back and for his first goal of the season.
“We made some halftime adjustments and those adjustments, in essence, played right into our hands and we were able to get up a few more to be able to battle and fight through,” Ortlieb said.
Lincoln Southwest cut the Gretna lead to 3-1 in the 55th minute on a score that perfectly flew over the head of Franke and out of his reach.
About 15 minutes later, a pass from one side of LSW’s goal to the other found Cover for an open score in the 69th minute. Lincoln Southwest added a score with six minutes left for a 4-2 score, but with little to no time left the Dragons captured the first round win.
The Dragons advanced to play the No. 1 seed Omaha South in the second round of the Class A State Tournament.
“Right now, it’s start from game one. Our biggest thing was making sure we were prepared for Southwest and everything like that before we even looked at who we could potentially see next,” Ortlieb said. “(Omaha) South is a good team.
“They’ve been No. 1 all year. It’s one of those, I think, we’re just going to have to go at them and play our way. At the end the best team will win.”