Thompson calls Shrine soccer game 'eye-opening experience'
     2013-06-13      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Recent Gering High School graduate Josie Thompson got the chance to play soccer one more time on the high school level Saturday, this time with former opponents as teammates, in the 20th annual Shrine Soccer Classic at Hastings College.

Thompson, who terrified many an opponent as a scoring machine for the Bulldogs in Gering’s back-to-back state tournament seasons, played for the winning North team, whose only goal in its 1-0 victory came from Norfolk’s Jordan Copple midway through the second half.

Thompson said the event proved to be “an eye-opening experience“ on two major counts.
First, during the event’s banquet Friday night, the teams were introduced to children who had been longtime patients at one of the Shriners Hospitals.
Thompson said the children spoke of their treatments, many of them lifelong, and then in turn became honorary captains for each of the teams and participated in each game’s coin toss.

Thompson, who had verbally committed to play at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, also decided to formally join the Lopers. Although she said she missed the signing opportunity in February, Thompson added that she will play at UNK as a walk-on. Thompson said she is undecided on her studies.

“I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to play soccer in college or not, and playing in the Shrine game really convinced me that I want to, so that was helpful,” Thompson said.

All-Star games like the Shrine Soccer Classic also bring together former opponents. Thompson said that Gretna, the team that eliminated Gering from the Class B State Tournament in May, had several players, and former foes from Kearney and North Platte were also North teammates of Thompson’s.

The teams only had Thursday and Friday to work together before Saturday’s games, Thompson said.
“It was a little different since we had only three practices together,” she said. “But we ended up meshing really well. It was higher paced and more intense.”

Thompson set three Gering records during her senior season in leading the 13-5 Bulldogs into the Class B State Tournament for the second straight year. Gering earned a No. 1 seed for the District B-6 Tournament but finished second to Holdrege in districts and qualified for state as a wild-card.

Thompson finished with a school-record 24 goals in season, which included a game-record five goals in Gering’s 8-1 win over Scottsbluff on April 23, and the last of her record four hat tricks during the year; she reached the three-goal standard by halftime of that victory.

As a junior, Thompson had a school-record seven assists to with a team-high 16 goals, helping Gering earn the District B-6 title with a 2-1 comeback win over Holdrege in the final 10 minutes.

At the 2012 state tournament, Thompson also scored what has so far been the Bulldogs’ only goal in four trips to state. Gering finished 2012 with a 13-7 record after taking a 5-1 loss to eventual runner-up Omaha Skutt Catholic in the first round of state.

Gering’s success was highly based on the teamwork the Bulldogs built from youth soccer all the way through their high school careers.
“I’ll miss the girls the most, just because we have played together since we were little,“ Thompson said. “We were always together and we’ve made those great friendships.”

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