Gering scores first goal at state but falls to Skutt
     2012-05-18      By Terry Gaston   
Courtesy photo
Gering junior Josie Thompson winds up for kick at Wednesday's first round of state tournament play. The Gering girls scored once against top-seeded Omaha Skutt, but ended their season with the opponent scoring five goals against them.
 
For the first time in three trips to the state soccer tournament, the Gering girls came away from Omaha with a goal.

Unfortunately, that one goal was not enough to take a victory over the three-time defending champion and top-seeded Omaha Skutt Catholic on Wednesday at Michael G. Morrison S.J. Stadium at Creighton University.

Junior Josie Thompson scored the Bulldogs’ tying goal in the game’s ninth minute, but SkyHawks senior Elizabeth Bartels scored two second-half goals in leading Skutt to a 5-1 victory.

“We came out really fired up and the environment was exciting,” said Sweeney, an assistant on the Bulldogs’ state-qualifying teams from 2005 and 2007, both of which were held scoreless.

The SkyHawks scored quickly on a goal by Natalie Johnson in the fourth minute, but the quick score did not deflate the Bulldogs’ ambitions or the high-energy atmosphere, Sweeney said.

“It was a beautiful shot, just under the goalpost and over Maggie’s hands, perfectly placed,” Sweeney said of junior goalkeeper Maggie Martin, who was busy all evening by allowing Skutt’s five goals but saving 32 other SkyHawk shots.

Thompson then scored the equalizer five minutes later on her team-leading 16th goal. “We went in and capitalized on a foul,“ Sweeney said. “Being at 1-1 was very exciting.”

But then the SkyHawks began their attack when senior Ali Graham — one of Skutt’s two NCAA Division I-bound players, she is headed to Saint Louis University — scored in the 17th minute. That 2-1 score held up until halftime.

And then Skutt, thanks to Marquette University-bound Bartels, erupted in the second half.

Bartels increased the SkyHawks’ lead to 3-1 in the 46th minute, and Hannah Ehresman added Skutt’s fourth goal in the 61st minute. Bartels finished the scoring 15 minutes later.

“She is amazing with her footwork,” Sweeney said of Bartels.
Gering (13-7) mustered only five shots to Skutt’s 43 with four on goal to the SkyHawks’ 37.

Gering loses just three seniors to graduation, including defender/forward Dani Copsey, who will continue her soccer career at Western Nebraska Community College in the fall. Copsey scored four goals, while neither defender Tristina Meister nor Jo Shirley reached the opponents’ goal.

Junior midfielder Jennifer Barge had a team-high four assists to go with her 11 goals, a number also reached by junior forward Shayla Garetto who added three assists. Junior wing/forward Jackie Hayden and freshman wing Kaylee Spreier added eight goals and three assists apiece. Martin made 110 saves during the season.

Thompson’s goal could turn out to be a golden element when the Bulldogs begin preparations in defending their district title next spring, although Sweeney said a repeat state trip can never be guaranteed.

“It’s a possibility, and it’s great that the girls got to come down for state,” Sweeney said. “But it seems things are different from year to year. We’ll just see what happens.”

The win over Gering advanced Skutt to the semifinals and the SkyHawks scored a 2-0 win Saturday over Lincoln Pius X. The SkyHawks (17-2) met Gretna (18-1) on Monday for the third straight year in the championship game in a bid to become just the second team to score four in a row in girls’ history.

However, the third time proved the charm for the Dragons, who scored with less than four minutes to play and dethrone Skutt 3-2 for their second state championship — Gretna’s first coming in 2003, with three runner-up finishes overall.

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