Year one proved to let the rest of Class A know that Gretna isn’t a pushover.
The Dragons recorded a 15-2 record and reach the Class A semifinals in their first season competing in Class A. The run was ended Friday with a 4-0 loss to top-seeded Omaha South.
Despite the tough loss, first-year Dragon coach Tyler Ortlieb is pleased with how year one went.
“I like where we’re at,” he said. “Where we came at from, from a team stand point is the biggest thing. Coming in our first year, if we would’ve gone .500, that’s where our expectations would be.
“This season will be tough to top but I can’t wait for February.”
The game didn’t go Gretna’s way from the start. South scored in the third minute after netting a rebound goal after an impressive save by Dragon goalkeeper Brendan Franke.
Falling down 1-0 that early was hard on the Dragon morale.
“When you give up a goal in the first 10 minutes on something you’ve seen on film, I think you could kind of see it throughout the team that it deflated us,” Ortlieb said. “And Franke great save to deny the first one.”
Franke continued to make some big saves over the next 30 minutes before a South flurry out the Packers in command entering halftime. South scored two goals in a four-minute span for a 3-0 halftime lead.
The first goal, in the 33rd minute, was on strong passing in the box by the Packers that resulted in an easy tap in goal. The half’s final score came on an stellar individual effort by South’s Abdi Adan.
The Packers added one more goal in the 56th minute.
It was a day went all South’s way and those are hard to avoid in soccer.
“There are so many fine margins in the game of soccer, you can catch anyone on their best game and play your worst,” Ortlieb said. “They were good tonight.”
Gretna was devastated to see their spectacular season end short of a state title game, especially since the team starting working for this season in September. But learning how to handle that disappointment is part of playing the game.
“You can learn so much in the game of soccer,” Ortlieb said. “It can be very rewarding but it can be very cruel on the other end of it. Teaching the boys how to deal with that is going to be one of my most important jobs.”