Here’s why it has been a good year for Lincoln soccer | High School Soccer

Power in the state’s high school football still hinges heavily on the Omaha territory, but this has been a good season for the Lincoln schools.

When the state tournament begins its 1½-week run in downtown Omaha on Monday, seven Lincoln teams will be in the field.

Class A girls are Lincoln Southeast, Lincoln Southwest, Lincoln East, and Lincoln Pius X; in Class A boys it is southwest and east; Class B girls include Lincoln Lutheran/Raymond Central.

Last season there were five Lincoln teams in the state, and a few years ago there was a season with only two Lincoln teams there.

Well, the road from a good season to a stellar season is when a Lincoln team can reclaim a state championship. Since 2014, when the Southwest Boys won, a Lincoln team has won a state soccer championship. Southwest came close again last season, losing to Omaha South in a shootout in the title match.

In the Class A girls, Lincoln has not had a finalist since 2012 (Southeast) and a champion since 2005 (East).

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In the last two state tournaments, all the champions came from the Omaha region.

While Lincoln’s chances of having a champion have improved this year, defending girls Class A champion Gretna is still the team to beat, with an 18-0 record and a 107-4 win against his opponents this season.

Right now Lincoln has some top-end talent with multiple NCAA Division I recruits, and they’ve helped rank their high school teams. These players started this journey at a young age and have continued with some strong club programs.

“These girls on every team wouldn’t be as good as we are if we didn’t have good coaches who take them from the juice box and fruit snack league to where they are now,” said Lincoln Pius X coach Steve Andersen. “There are girls on every single team in town who travel across the county to play most of the year and that fruit is starting to blossom.”

Pius X had really good teams when it was in Class B, but it was more difficult when Pius X became one of the smaller schools playing in Class A. The Thunderbolts made the state for the first time since 2015.

The Bolts are led by the Vacek sisters – senior Abby has 16 goals and sophomore Kate has 11. Abby Vacek is so good she has played with the boys’ side of their club organization Hawks FC.

But Pius X is also good at defense. The Bolts use a three-back formation with Lily Hodge, Sydney Schmidt and Brooklyn Shotkoski, who along with goaltender Cathi Pham were pretty tough to hit.

“It’s a risk-reward situation playing three at the back, but they are very strong defensive players that allow us to play an offensive style,” Andersen said.

The high school coaches in town are also good, and several programs have had coaching continuity.

Lincoln Southwest girls coach Thomas Nettleton spent two years learning from some great coaches as an assistant coach for the Hastings men’s team after retiring from the school.

Lincoln Southeast coach Liz (Sundberg) Kremer learned a lot from a season on the Husker football team. She then trained under Nettleton for several years before he encouraged her to pursue the Southeast job.

Nettleton said Kremer is good and recognizes what players need in each moment.

“She builds trust in others and sees the strengths in other people that they may not see in themselves,” Nettleton said. “She’s got a backbone strong enough to stand up to anyone who’s tough on her, and she’s a culture educator.”

Many of the city teams have off-season training programs in summer and winter. Southwest had a 15-0 record last season but lost 1-0 to Millard North in a shootout in the first round.

That’s why they had some voluntary training sessions for attackers last summer, focused on improving their shots on goal. This happened early in the morning about three days a week.

“That was mostly for a group that had 19 shots and only had two against and didn’t win in the first round of the state tournament,” Nettleton said. “It was more of a diagnosis of what we could improve on, so we committed. I asked the players if they wanted to do it and they said yes. So we did it at 6:45 am.”

When it comes to association football in the summer and fall, many Lincoln players head out to play for teams in Gretna and Omaha.

However, a few more club programs have sprung up in Lincoln, meaning Lincoln players help other Lincoln players improve for their high school teams. One such club is the 402 Development Academy, which has won multiple state titles.

“Now there’s a group on the ground that has been very strong,” Nettleton said. “That’s why Pius is better, we’re better, East is better, and then Southeast just goes crazy.”

'We're more of a family': The Southeast girls improve by five wins and look good


* The state tournament has stayed with the eight-day format it had during the 2021 pandemic, with all 28 games played at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium. But the first game of the day now starts at 12 noon instead of 10 a.m

* There are some football schools where eight teams field both their boys’ and girls’ teams. Here’s the list: Gretna, Lincoln East, Lincoln Southwest, Omaha Westside, Omaha Skutt, Elkhorn North, Northwest, and Bennington.

* First time state qualifiers all come in Class B – Northwest girls and Elkhorn North boys and girls teams.

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