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CLASS A BOYS SOCCER

Class A boys soccer: Gretna is 'finally over the hurdle' after beating Lincoln East to reach elusive final round

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Lincoln East vs. Gretna, 5.13

Gretna's Michael Stukenhotlz dribbles through a slide tackle attempt by Lincoln East's Elijah Jobst during a Class A boys state semifinal match Friday at Morrison Stadium in Omaha.

OMAHA — This time, the Gretna boys soccer team is going all the way to the state championship match.

The second-ranked Dragons beat No. 7 Lincoln East 4-2 in the Class A state semifinals on Friday at Morrison Stadium.

Gretna had lost in the state semifinals in each of the past three seasons — against South Sioux City (2018), Omaha South (2019) and Omaha South again last season. Omaha South went on to win the championship in 2019 and 2021, but the Packers lost in districts this year.

“It’s nice not playing Omaha South in a semifinal,” Gretna coach Tyler Ortlieb said. “It’s finally over the hurdle, and it felt good.”

Gretna has reached the championship for the first time since 2014, and the first time since making the move up to Class A.

Now the Dragons play for a state title again.

“It’s why quite a few kids play high school,” Ortlieb said. “That’s why our whole coaching staff has played at Gretna and stuff. The last state title was 2011, and four of us on the staff were on the team. It was my senior year.”

Gretna got on the scoreboard just six minutes into the match on a goal by Maguire Perkins.

The Dragons took a 2-0 lead in the 19th minute when Thomas Sowinski chipped a shot over the goalie after a short run.

Early in the second half, East cut its deficit to 2-1 when Aiden Nachi knocked in a rebound shot 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 wall of defenders and into the top of the goal for a 3-1 lead.

Michael Stukenholtz got Gretna’s final goal with about 11 minutes left. It was a great individual effort, with Stukenholtz fighting off several defenders.

Nachi added a second goal for East with three minutes left in the second half.

Gretna led in shots 13-8.

East ends the season with a 13-4 record and a Heartland Conference championship.

“The boys gave it their all,” Lincoln East coach Colin Smitsek said. “I just think we were a little naïve in certain areas, if I’m honest, in certain areas of the field. Credit to Gretna. They’ve just got a lot going forward. Their attacking potency is solid, and defensively they were spot on.”

The match was delayed for about 15 minutes because Gretna had travel delays. The players started getting into their uniforms on the bus when it looked like the team would arrive just 20 minutes before the scheduled start time.

“I think we might leave at 8 a.m. on Tuesday (for the championship match),” Ortlieb said.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or bwagner@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.

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Husker volleyball/women's basketball reporter

Brent has worked at the Journal Star for 14 years. His beats include Nebraska volleyball, women's basketball and high school soccer and cross country.

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