Temperatures in the 80s, playing two matches and winds blowing 25 mph made an impact on the Lincoln North Star boys soccer triangular Saturday afternoon at Spirit Park.

Those three factors, however, didn't impact No. 1 Kearney, as the undefeated Bearcats cruised to a 3-0 win against No. 7 Lincoln East after a convincing 5-0 victory against North Star.

The wins clinched Kearney's outright Heartland Athletic Conference title, the school's first in its first season in the conference, pushing the Bearcats' winning steak to 26 matches.

"This was for the outright conference championship today; we knew that going in," Kearney coach Scott Steinbrook said. "We talked about it and we didn't have to wait until Tuesday (against Lincoln High) to do it. That's a big statement for our guys."

The Bearcats' conference title watch was put on hold the entire first half against Lincoln East, as the Spartans were able to keep the Kearney offense in check.

Both teams had scoring chances, the best coming from Kearney's Carson Elstermeier in the 23rd minute, but none found the back of the net.

Spartan coach Colin Smitsek said his team felt good about the first half, but keeping Kearney in check in the second 40 minutes proved to be too much.

"I think the boys put themselves in a position to feel good," Smitsek said. "We know they are difficult to break down and they have some solid individuals to change the game. At times, there's a little bit of naiveté to our play, and we're not always clinical as we need to be. We just weren't organized enough in some situations."

You have free articles remaining.

Become a Member

That organization gave Kearney its first goal.

Bearcat senior Royce Austen played a corner kick and Jaden Engen headed it in to give Kearney a 1-0 lead in the 50th minute.

"It was a great service by Royce, perfect delivery and a perfect header," Steinbrook said. "I was really proud of the way we played in those conditions."

Jaren Hoffart added another goal for Kearney in the 62nd minute and Austen netted one of his own three minutes later.

"We felt pretty good, even after the first half, with the wind at our backs and fatigue setting in. I think Mother Nature had a little assist on a few of those goals," Steinbrook said.

East will finish its regular season with Senior Night against Fremont on Monday.

Sign up to get our weekly Prep Sports newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Load comments