GNAC Tournament proves tough for soccer teams: Scottsbluff teams both finish 6th, Gering teams 7th after all earn splits in consolation play
     2014-04-17      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/Sheila Weber Photography - Bearcat sophomore Chloey Reifschneider directs the ball during first round play against Columbus. The Lady Bearcats earned sixth place in the tournament. 
SCOTTSBLUFF – After all the Gering and Scottsbluff soccer teams shook off first-round losses Friday in the greater Nebraska Athletic Conference Tournament, all four teams gained splits of their consolation matches in leaving all four Bulldog and Bearcat teams at 1-2 for the eight-team tourney.

With a stiff easterly wind blowing across the fields at the Dr. Allan C. Landers Memorial Soccer Complex, both Scottsbluff teams earned consolation semifinal victories – with the Bearcat girls shutting out Gering 3-0 – for spots in their respective fifth-place games.

After Gering lost both semifinal matches – the Bulldog boys were downed 3-1 by Norfolk – the Bulldogs both found themselves down by a goal in their respective seventh-place matches.

The Gering girls tied the score at 1-each and then out-kicked Lexington 3-1 in a penalty kick shootout to earn the 2-1 win. The Bulldog boys, after trailing North Platte by one at halftime, scored twice in the final 14 minutes for a 2-1 win as well.

Scottsbluff, meanwhile, was shut out by Norfolk in both its fifth-place games to settle for sixth place. The Norfolk girls defeated the Bearcats 2-0, while the Panther boys blanked Scottsbluff 5-0.

Gering and Scottsbluff will square off against each other on Monday following what will be a busy week for the Bearcat boys. The girls’ varsity game will be at 5 p.m. at the Landers Complex, while the boys’ varsity contest will start at 7 p.m. at Gering’s Memorial Stadium.

Gering teams rally to take 7th-place wins

After both Gering teams were dealt lopsided losses in first-round action Friday – the boys, 8-0 to No. 1 seeded and eventual runner-up Kearney and the girls, 11-1 to No. 2 seed North Platte – Saturday’s consolation semifinals brought hope that the Bulldogs could at least get out of the tournament with at least one win apiece.

But those chances had to wait after the Bulldog boys lost to Norfolk and the girls were shut out by Scottsbluff in the semifinals.

Not even the seventh-place games were easy for Gering, with the girls falling behind Lexington and the boys trailing North Platte after the oppositions scored the games’ first goals.

As it turned out, those scores by Lexington and North Platte would be their last of the tournament, and Gering rallied to tie the girls’ game to force the shootout, which the Bulldogs won 3-1 to take the 2-1 victory.

Meanwhile, the Gering boys scored twice in the final 13 minutes to take their 2-1 victory.

“I just told them that they have a lot of potential, and as soon as they find it and start playing with it all the time that they are going to be a team that’s to be reckoned with,” Gering boys’ coach Justin Smith said in encouraging the Bulldogs during the halftime break, down a goal to North Platte.

In the 27th minute of the second half, however, Gering found its break thanks to the speedy senior Gage Smith and a well-played assist from sophomore Brent Barge.

“Gage can sometimes almost take over a game with his athleticism and speed,” Clark said. “We got a good ball up over the top from Brent Barge, and he got through and was just able to bury that thing. I don’t think the goalkeeper saw it until it was in the back of the net.”

Senior goalkeeper Dylan Wetherington fended off North Platte’s numerous threats to break the tie and often gave the Bulldogs good field position with his strong goal kicks.

“It’s such a weapon for us to have Dylan able to kick the ball down the field so far,” Clark said.

And in the 38th minute, Wetherington’s feed to junior Marcelino Ramos set up Gering’s winning opportunity. Ramos passed to senior Travis Mundell near the goal, and Mundell found sophomore Javier Campos open on the right side of the goal, looking at nothing but net in front of him.

“He got that ball out to Marcelino, who did a very good job of cutting it back inside and finding Travis in the middle, and he just played it right to Javier on the goal,” Clark said.

North Platte (2-6) held a shot advantage of 21-18 over Gering (6-5), but the Bulldogs had a 13-10 advantage in shots on goal. Wetherington made nine saves in goal for Gering.

The win followed Gering’s 3-1 loss to Norfolk in the consolation semifinals. Senior Alex Clark got the Bulldogs on the board with a penalty kick in the 27th minute for the game’s first goal.

Norfolk equalized six minutes later to leave the teams knotted at 1-all at halftime. The Panthers then scored twice in the second half to earn their berth in the fifth-place game against Scottsbluff.

Norfolk outshot Gering 20-17, with each team getting 10 shots on goal. Clark and Mundell led the Bulldogs with four shots each, and Wetherington finished the match with five saves for Gering.

After the Gering girls were beaten by 10 goals Friday, the Bulldogs found themselves playing Scottsbluff in the consolation semifinals. But a hat trick by sophomore Kelli Wentz and sophomore Livvy Michael’s 10 saves in goal proved the difference in the Bearcats’ win and a berth in the fifth-place match.

“We just needed to finish against Scottsbluff,” Gering girls’ coach Lisa Freeburg said. “I told them that we could against Lexington, and that got us tied with them and eventually the win in the shootout.”

The Bulldogs and Lexington played a scoreless first half before the Minutemaids scored early in the second half. Lexington held onto its lead until Gering broke through with 12 minutes remaining off a corner kick. Senior Kelsea Prieels kicked the ball to the middle of the box, and sophomore Noemi Amaro knocked home the equalizing goal.

In the shootout, Prieels scored first for the Bulldogs and McKenna Copsey made two big saves early on. Lexington tied the shootout at 1-1 in the third round. Gering then sealed the win on goals by sophomores Abby Keisel and Morgan Smith.

“I just tell the girls to pick a spot to shoot, and Kelsea, Abby and Morgan all found their spots,” Freeburg said.

For the match, Gering (4-7) outshot Lexington 28-13, with a 21-5 advantage in shots on goal.

Lexington freshman Jennifer Quinteros stopped 17 Gering shots, while Copsey made three saves against the Minutemaids (1-9).

Gering returns to action today (Thursday) with a home doubleheader against Newcastle, Wyo. The

girls’ contest at Memorial Stadium begins at 4 p.m. and the boys’ game at 6 p.m.

Bearcat boys down North Platte in consolation semis

The Scottsbluff boys were hard-luck losers in the first round, playing No. 2 seed Lexington to a 1-1 tie before the Minutemen outscored the Bearcats in the shootout 5-4.

Scottsbluff sophomore Eseah Ingram scored early in the first half for the Bearcats, but Lexington scored on senior Gerardo Ramirez’s goal early in the second half to forge the tie that led to the shootout.

But Scottsbluff (5-5) returned Saturday to take a 3-2 win over North Platte in the consolation semifinals. the Bearcats’ hope for fifth place, however, were shut down by Norfolk (5-5) and its 5-0 win. Scoring for Scottsbluff against North Platte was not available.

“I think it took a little out of us coming back from what we did against North Platte,” Scottsbluff boys’ coach Nate Rock said. “These guys fought the entire time. We’re a better team than we showed this last game, but sometimes the bounces go a certain way and you just have to roll with it.”

Norfolk (5-5) scored just one first-half goal but then scored three times in the first 17 minutes of the second half to blow the fifth-place game wide open.

“We came out pretty flat and they jumped on us, and then we settled down and played well,” Rock said. “But we can’t consistently do that. If we put ourselves in a hole then we’re going to be in trouble, so we have to learn to start well right away.

“They were big and physical. Once they got one or two in, they just kept on it and they were aggressive and able to stay on us pretty well.”

The Bearcat boys then play Green River, Wyo., today (Thursday) in a make-up game from March 22, and Saturday they and the Gering boys will travel to Grand Island on Saturday. Scottsbluff plays Grand Island Central Catholic at 11 a.m., Gering plays GICC at 1 p.m. and Scottsbluff takes on Northeast Lutheran at 1:30 p.m.

Scottsbluff girls down Gering but fall to Norfolk for 6th

In the Bearcats’ semifinal win over Gering, Wentz scored her first goal just four minutes into the match to give Scottsbluff the early 1-0 lead. She added another goal in the 10th minute when she converted a penalty kick, which had rebounded off Copsey’s face, to give the Bearcats a 2-0 lead.

Wentz then completed her hat trick halfway through the second half when she curved a shot into the net.

“Just getting that first goal, you crack the net and you get that little puff in the chest and you feel like you can play,” Bearcat girls’ coach Chad Larson said. “Once we got the second one, I think the girls got their heads up. And then we started playing possession and tried to not boot the ball.”

The teams were close to even on shots attempted, with Scottsbluff taking 23 and Gering 21, with the Bulldogs getting 13 shots on goal and the Bearcats getting 12. In goal, Michael had 10 saves for Scottsbluff and Copsey made 13 stops for Gering.

“Livvy Michael made some great saves, even one off her face,” Larson said. “I think she was a key component. She doesn’t get enough credit, but I think she is one of the best keepers we’ve ever had.”

Larson summarized Scottsbluff’s tournament effort positively and looks for the pluses to be more prevalent in the Bearcats’ upcoming games.

“I think overall, we made a pretty decent showing on our part. We played a really tough Columbus team (Friday, losing 5-2) and I thought we played really well in that game,” Larson said. “Then we came out and got a victory today and even against this Norfolk squad, I thought we played really well.

“Every once in a while our youth will poke through and we’d make little mistakes. But I think overall we’re growing as a team, we’re going in the right direction and overall I think it was a good tournament for us.”

Scottsbluff had action Tuesday against Cheyenne Central, with the girls’ match at home and the boys playing in Cheyenne.

Tourney results


While both Kearney teams entered the GNAC Tournament as the No. 1 seeds, only the Bearcat girls emerged in winning their championship. Kearney (7-1) defeated No. 3 seed Columbus 3-0, ending the Explorers’ eight-game winning streak to start the year.

In the boys’ finals, No. 3 seed Hastings (8-2) won its opener over North Platte 2-1, and then the Tigers needed shootout wins to get past Lexington 2-1 in the semifinals and 1-0 over Kearney (6-2) for the championship.

In third-place games, the Lexington boys overcame their semifinal shootout loss to take third with a 3-0 win over Columbus (4-5). The North Platte girls (4-4) scored a 5-1 win over Hastings (6-4) in their third-place contest.

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