Lexington boys oust Scottsbluff after Bearcats down Bulldogs
     2012-05-04      By Terry Gaston    news@geringcitizen.com
Scottsbluff’s Randy Wentz (No. 9) and Gering’s Jessy Richard (No. 22) chase after a loose ball Monday night in the first round of district play. Both teams ended their seasons before finals. 
SCOTTSBLUFF — Scottsbluff boys’ soccer coach Nate Rock said Monday night after the Bearcats’ 2-1 win over Gering in the District B-6 tournament that the first-round game could actually decide the eventual district champion.

And when the Bearcats scored first Tuesday in their semifinal against top-seeded Lexington, it appeared Rock might be right in Scottsbluff having the home field and travel circumstance to its advantage.

However, the Minutemen, like their namesakes from the Revolutionary War days, proved in the second half why they were the district’s No. 1 seed, punching in four unanswered goals en route to a 5-2 victory at the Dr. Allan C. Landers Memorial Soccer Complex.

The loss thus ended the Bearcats’ season at 10-10, while Lexington (12-6) will play in the district final – which will be at Kearney’s Baldwin Field on Thursday. No. 2 seeded Grand Island Northwest (10-5) played No. 3 Holdrege (10-4) in Tuesday’s other semifinal, also at Baldwin Field in Kearney.

The Bearcats had lost 4-2 to Lexington on March 31 in North Platte, but Rock said with the Bearcats healthy and playing at home, he felt Tuesday’s rematch could offer a reversal of outcome and land Scottsbluff one step away from the Class B state tournament.

“We were healthy for the first time all year and they had to come to play us here,” Rock said.

And the Bearcat faithful on hand let out a mighty roar when season leading scorer Jed Weis knocked in the game’s first goal just eight minutes into the game.

Lexington scored the equalizer in the 21st minute, and the teams battled the rest of the half to a 1-all deadlock.

The Minutemen scored four straight goals, including two scores close together midway through the second half that Rock said really broke the Bearcats’ spirit.

“They got two quick goals, and from there it was pretty rough,” Rock said. “We had played hard and our heads dropped a little bit, but we played to the end.”

Indeed, Scottsbluff senior Cullen Calderon added another Bearcat goal, his second of the district tournament, for good measure in the 78th minute to perhaps ease the sting of defeat a little.

Rock said he saw plenty of reason to declare the season a success for Scottsbluff, even though the Bearcats finished short of their ultimate goal of making state as a district champion.

“We started 3-8 and once won six in a row,” Rock said. “I thought we had a good year. The effort was there all year long.”



Scottsbluff’s Blake Wills (No. 23) winds up for a hard kick with Gering’s James Guzman (No. 16) defending and Bearcat teammate Ariel Barraza (No. 12) closing in on the play. The Bearcats defeated the Bulldogs 2-1 Monday night and went on to fall to Lexington Tuesday night 5-2, thereby ending their season.

Scottsbluff 2, Gering 1
The Bearcats and Bulldogs played the first half like they had met twice already this season, with neither team able to crack through the other’s defense and get a solid shot on goal.

The scoreless deadlock was broken in the 53rd minute, when Scottsbluff — a 2-0 victor over the Bulldogs on April 16 — earned a direct free kick just outside the Gering penalty area.

Junior Randy Wentz placed the kick right on target to senior Fernando Mendoza, who headed the ball in past Bulldog sophomore Dylan Wetherington for the game’s first goal.

“We have emphasized set pieces this year,” Rock said. “We have lacked a big scoring threat, although Jed Weis (a senior who was at the national DECA competition but back for Tuesday’s game) has played well, and we played well tonight.”

Gering, however, did not let the goal faze its game, when six minutes later senior Jose Hernandez found senior Aaron Nietz midway and just outside the goal area on a cross pass. Nietz sent a diving header past Scottsbluff keeper Justin Becerra to knot the score at 1-all.

“We work on that cross pass all the time,” said Gering coach Justin Clark, whose team scored a 2-1 shoot-out win over Scottsbluff on April 7. “Jose had great vision to see that Aaron was there, and it was just good enough to get it past the keeper.”

Just seven minutes afterward, however, the Bearcats found an opening in the right lane with junior Joey Gurney finding Calderon open for a sliding kick past Wetherington for a 2-1 Bearcat lead.

“You can let them get you down or up,” Rock said. “I figured one goal wouldn’t be good enough to win. Gering does a good job of dumping it off, and Joey challenged what he certainly was offered. Cullen was through there and he still had a lot to get it in.”

The game ended with 14 scoreless minutes afterward and the Bearcats advancing into Tuesday’s semifinals against Lexington.

Other than coming out on the short end of the score, the Bulldogs had slim advantages in the other statistical categories. Gering had an 8-7 shot edge, 7-6 on goal, and had seven corner kicks to Scottsbluff’s four. Becerra made six saves for the Bearcats, while Wetherington had four stops.

“I told the kids they have nothing to be ashamed of,” Clark said of the Bulldogs’ 7-11 season. “We created most of our chances and opportunities, we just couldn’t get it done. It could have very well been 2-1 for us.”

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