Welcome to Episode 30 of the Prep Extra Podcast presented by The Lincoln Journal Star.
OMAHA — This time, the Gretna boys’ soccer team goes all the way to the state championship game.
The second-placed Dragons beat No. 7 Lincoln East 4-2 in the Class A state semifinals at Morrison Stadium on Friday.
Gretna had lost in the state semifinals for each of the past three seasons – to South Sioux City (2018), Omaha South (2019) and Omaha South again last season. Omaha South won the championship in 2019 and 2021, but the Packers lost in districts this year.
“It’s nice not playing Omaha South in a semifinal,” said Gretna coach Tyler Ortlieb. “Finally the hurdle has been cleared and it felt good.”
Gretna has reached the championship for the first time since 2014 and the first time since being promoted to Class A.
Now the Dragons are playing for a state title again.
“That’s why quite a few kids play in high school,” Ortlieb said. “That’s why our entire coaching staff played at Gretna and stuff. The last state title was in 2011, and four of us on the team were on the team. It was my last year.”
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Gretna came on the scoreboard just six minutes into the game through a goal by Maguire Perkins.
The Dragons took a 2-0 lead in the 19th minute when Thomas Sowinski played a shot over the keeper after a short run.
Early in the second half, East reduced their deficit to 2-1 when Aiden Nachi scored a rebound for his team-leading 20th goal of the season.
But just three minutes later, Brett Perkins scored. It was a great strike, with Perkins drilling a free-kick over the defenders’ wall and into the top of the goal for a 3-1 lead.
Michael Stukenholtz scored Gretna’s final goal with about 11 minutes remaining. It was a great individual performance that saw Stukenholtz battle multiple defenders.
Nachi added a second goal for East with three minutes left in the second half.
Gretna led in shots 13-8.
East finishes the season with a 13-4 record and a Heartland Conference championship.
“The boys gave it their all,” said Lincoln East coach Colin Smitsek. “I just think we’ve been a little naïve in certain areas, if I’m honest, in certain areas of the field. Credit to Gretna. You just have a lot to do. Their attack strength is solid and they were spot on defensively.”
The game was delayed by about 15 minutes due to Gretna’s travel delays. The players began to change into their uniforms on the bus when it appeared the team would arrive just 20 minutes before the scheduled start time.
“I think we could leave at 8 a.m. on Tuesday (for the championship game),” Ortlieb said.