OMAHA — Goalie Alexus Townsend had to try and stop some of the best goal scorers in Class B during a girls all-star soccer match Friday.
But she’s used to that from practicing with a team of current and past NCAA Division I women’s soccer players. Townsend plays for the Gretna Elite Academy U-23 team that plays in United Women’s Soccer.
That’s a pro-am league, which is a designation based on how the league is operated. The Gretna squad is all-amateur, but some of the players are playing in the league to get ready for the upcoming college season or to try and get the attention of teams in the professional leagues.
On Friday, Townsend represented Omaha Gross one final time. She was the MVP of the Class B match in the Nebraska High School Soccer Senior Showcase at Omaha Skutt.
Townsend was MVP despite being the goalie for the team that lost. But Townsend made several saves that kept the match close, including one great diving one, and it took some well-executed goals to score against Townsend. And then in the final minutes of the match, Townsend moved from the net to a field position and scored a goal on a long free kick.
It was the visiting team that won the match 4-2, led by two goals apiece from Carmen Dudley of Ralston and Cece Behrens of Omaha Skutt. Addi Ernstmeyer and Lauren Stull from Lincoln Lutheran/Raymond Central were each on the winning squad.
Rylee Eschliman (Northwest) scored the other goal of the match in a losing effort.
The third-year event is a fundraiser for Special Olympics Nebraska, and has replaced the Shrine Soccer Classic. Townsend said she had a great time.
“I think I just became friends with all of them,” she said.
Townsend has been the starting keeper for Omaha Gross since she was a freshman.
Then she got the invite to play for the Gretna Elite pro-am team this summer. For women’s soccer players the setup is similar to how college baseball players spread out across the nation to play in various leagues during the summer.
The team has some of the biggest names in Nebraska soccer from recent years including Skylar Heinrich (from Elkhorn played for Creighton), Hannah Davis (from Lincoln Southwest played for Nebraska), Delaney Stekr (from Omaha Marian plays for Minnesota) and Katie Stoneburner (from Millard West plays for Nebraska).
Former college players Jaylyn (Odermann) Armstrong (Nebraska) and Jaylin Bosak (Creighton) also play on the team.
Townsend is one of only four players on the 33-player roster who was still in high school this year. Townsend began practicing with Gretna Elite soon after the high school season ended. The practices are “intense.”
“The effort is almost perfect,” Townsend said. “The speed is so much different from anything you would expect. Out of high school, it’s almost like a culture shock.”
She was the starting keeper during Gretna's exhibition match on Thursday. This summer the team will play teams from Kansas City, Missouri; Springfield, Missouri; St. Louis; Wichita, Kansas.
After that Townsend will play NCAA Division II soccer for Northern State in Aberdeen, South Dakota. Northern State found Townsend when she was playing a club soccer match.
“We were at a ECNL event for Gretna Elite Academy and one of the (Northern State) coaches noticed me, because one of my teammates was committed there,” Townsend said. “He just liked me so much he called me the next day and said I really want you on our team. That’s how it all started.”
In the boys match, Jr. Casillas from Lexington put on a show in leading the home team to a 4-0 win. Casillas scored three goals, with the first coming just 52 seconds into the match. All three of his goals came in the opening 23 minutes. Eduardo Gomez from Lexington scored the other goal.
Casillas was one of just two Class B boys players that made the Super-State soccer team for this season.
The Class A matches are Saturday at 5 p.m. (girls) and 7:30 (boys).
All-state soccer: Meet the first-team Super-Stater soccer boys
NOLAN FUELBERTH (captain)
𝙂𝙤𝙖𝙡𝙠𝙚𝙚𝙥𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙣 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙬𝙚𝙨𝙩 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: He made 72 saves and allowed only seven goals over 1,260 minutes of match time. Fuelberth had a 15-1 record as a starter. During a regular-season match against No. 1 Omaha Skutt, he didn’t allow a goal in regulation or overtime, and then made two saves in the shootout to help Southwest win the match.
What he’s known for: “Opposing coaches would most likely say he was a calming presence at the back who was very difficult to beat due to his positioning, strong hands and organization.” — Lincoln Southwest coach Derek Scheich
𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 /// 𝙊𝙢𝙖𝙝𝙖 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: He scored 25 goals, including multiple matches with hat tricks, and had four assists for the state champion Packers.
What he’s known for: “Kevin never missed a penalty kick this entire season during a game or in a shootout, and was the player we leaned on in those type of leadership pressure situations. Kevin’s ability to hold the ball up top and distribute in high-pressure situations is what made him one of the best in the state.” — Omaha South coach Joe Maass
𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 /// 𝙈𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝙒𝙚𝙨𝙩 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: He scored 12 goals, including one during the state tournament, and had an impressive 11 assists. He played nearly every minute of every match.
Super-State moments: With the season on the brink in the district semifinals, Millard West trailed Papillion-La Vista 1-0 with two minutes left in the second half before Tubaugh scored the tying goal on a header. Millard West scored again with 12 seconds remaining in regulation, giving the Wildcats the 2-1 win. The next game they won again to reach state.
𝙈𝙞𝙙𝙛𝙞𝙚𝙡𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝘾𝙧𝙚𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙤𝙣 𝙋𝙧𝙚𝙥 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: This wasn’t one of Prep’s best teams, but Brakke was still able to lead the Junior Jays to the state tournament semifinals.
What he’s known for: “As his soccer acumen and skills are unassailable, it has been his growth as a leader and his emergence as a mentor to his teammates which impacted our season most dramatically. Ryan has unquestionably secured his place in the litany of the finest student-athletes to have played soccer for Creighton Prep." — Creighton Prep coach Tom Hoover
𝙈𝙞𝙙𝙛𝙞𝙚𝙡𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙇𝙚𝙭𝙞𝙣𝙜𝙩𝙤𝙣 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: He only played in 11 games due to injury, but still scored 11 goals and had nine assists to lead the Minutemen to the state championship match for the first time.
What he’s known for: “He is known for his creativity on the ball and finishing. He is so technical and has great vision that he makes others around him better.” — Lexington coach Jess McHargue
𝙈𝙞𝙙𝙛𝙞𝙚𝙡𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙊𝙢𝙖𝙝𝙖 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝 /// 𝙟𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: He scored 10 goals and had 11 assists for the state champion Packers. His coach refers to Cisneros as “Mr. May” for all of the big plays he’s made in the postseason during his career.
Super-State moments: “Edwin scored the first goal of the state semifinal match against Gretna on a 60-yard take to the goal. He beat the last defender one-on-one. It’s probably the best goal I’ve witnessed at state ever.” – Omaha South coach Joe Maass
𝙈𝙞𝙙𝙛𝙞𝙚𝙡𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙊𝙢𝙖𝙝𝙖 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: He scored 11 goals and had five assists for the state champion Packers.
What he’s known for: “Wawa can play just about every position on the field at an all-state level. He looks like he is on skates while dribbling and passing around defenders and is nearly impossible to catch in the open field once he gets an opening.” — Omaha South coach Joe Maass
𝙈𝙞𝙙𝙛𝙞𝙚𝙡𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙣 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙬𝙚𝙨𝙩 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: He was the highest-scoring midfielder in Class A with 14 goals and 12 assists, helping Southwest set a program record for goals in a season with 67. Rhodes scored four game-winning goals. He’ll play in college at Dakota Wesleyan.
Super-State moments: “Obviously the one that stands out is the game-tying free kick against Omaha South with 90 seconds remaining in the second half in the state championship match. However, against Lincoln Pius X he had a goal where he dribbled through eight defenders and calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net. Against Papillion-La Vista South he intercepted the ball at a dead sprint and glided 30 yards at full pace with the ball and beat five defenders to score our opening goal.” — Lincoln Southwest coach Derek Scheich
𝘿𝙚𝙛𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙣 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙬𝙚𝙨𝙩 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: He helped lead a defense that tied a school record by allowing only seven goals all season.
Super-State moments: “In the first round of the state tournament against Grand Island, shutting down Javier Baide — who had burned us bad in the first match of the season — was a team effort, but Braeden was in command and control in the organization of the defense and cleaning up anything that got by.” — Lincoln Southwest coach Derek Scheich
𝘿𝙚𝙛𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙈𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: Lammel scored five goals as a defender, and helped Millard South reach state for the first time since 2008, with the Patriots getting retiring coach Jim Cooney back to state one final time. Numerous coaches said Lammel was the best defender they saw all season. He’s going to Northwest Missouri State to be a kicker on the football team.
What he’s known for: “He was great on corner kicks and set pieces at going up and getting important goals. Cole was the alpha on the team this season. He looks different than most soccer players due to working out in the weight room harder than a lot of our football players.” — Millard South coach Jim Cooney
𝘿𝙚𝙛𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙊𝙢𝙖𝙝𝙖 𝙎𝙠𝙪𝙩𝙩 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: He led an Omaha Skutt defense that had a Class B state-record 18 shutouts and set a school record for goals allowed (four) while winning the state championship. During the only loss of the season for Skutt, against Lincoln Southwest in a shootout, Meyers didn’t play due to illness. He’ll play soccer at Nebraska Wesleyan.
What he’s known for: “John is known as one of the best one-on-one defenders. He rarely gets beat and he keeps the back line organized and is constantly communicating with his teammates.” — Omaha Skutt coach Justin Zabawa
All-state soccer: Meet the first-team Super-State soccer girls
SARAH WEBER (captain)
𝙈𝙞𝙙𝙛𝙞𝙚𝙡𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙂𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙣𝙖 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: She set a Class A state record for goals in a season with 48. That includes four goals over three matches at the state tournament while leading Gretna to the state championship.
What she’s known for: “She can score goals with her right foot, left foot and on headers. She’s scored solo goals, and goals on assists from her teammates. You name it, that kid can certainly do it.” — Gretna coach Digger Hawkins
𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 /// 𝙊𝙢𝙖𝙝𝙖 𝙎𝙠𝙪𝙩𝙩 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: She scored a school-record 39 goals this season, breaking the record previously held by Liz Bartels. She scored six goals over three matches at the state tournament to help the Skyhawks win the state championship. She’ll play soccer in college at Omaha.
Super-State moments: “In the second game of the season, Cece scored five goals against Omaha Mercy, which was ranked second in Class B at the time, to set the tone for the season.” — Omaha Skutt coach John Carlson
𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 /// 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙣 𝙀𝙖𝙨𝙩 /// 𝙨𝙤𝙥𝙝𝙤𝙢𝙤𝙧𝙚
The details: She scored 31 goals, smashing the previous school record for goals in a season of 20 previously held by Jenna Cole and Ali Portell. Carpenter had four matches where she scored at least four goals.
Super-State moments: She scored three goals in the first half during a 5-0 win against Millard North, a team that would later reach the state finals. Against Lincoln Pius X, the Spartans trailed 1-0 with 10 minutes remaining before Carpenter scored two quick goals for a 2-1 win in regulation. She scored two goals in a 6-4 win against Papillion-La Vista South in the first round of the state tournament.
𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 /// 𝙂𝙧𝙚𝙩𝙣𝙖 /// 𝙟𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: She scored 24 goals and had a massive amount of assists (18) for the state champion Dragons. She scored the game-winning goal when Gretna beat Millard North 2-1 in the state championship match.
What she’s known for: “Savannah is a very competitive player. She had a great goal tally, and a great assist tally, but she does a lot more for the team than just those stats. She’s another important part of our success this season.” — Gretna coach Digger Hawkins
𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 /// 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙣 𝙀𝙖𝙨𝙩 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: She scored 16 goals and had 11 assists while helping East reach the state tournament semifinals. She ranks No. 3 in program history in career goals (38) despite having her junior season canceled. She’ll play soccer at Nebraska this fall.
Super-State moments: “She had a hat trick in the district championship against Elkhorn South, with so many calm and composed finishes in a pressure situation.” — Lincoln East coach Emily Mathews
𝙁𝙤𝙧𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 /// 𝙋𝙖𝙥𝙞𝙡𝙡𝙞𝙤𝙣-𝙇𝙖 𝙑𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙖 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: She scored 21 goals despite missing part of the season with a broken arm. She’ll play soccer in college at Nebraska.
Super-State moments: “Allie came back for the state tournament and scored three goals in her first contest. She knows how to put a team on her back and constantly beats defenders one-on-one to get her shot off. She is truly an outstanding player.” — Papillion-La Vista South coach Jacob Watson
𝙈𝙞𝙙𝙛𝙞𝙚𝙡𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙉𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙝 𝙋𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙚 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: She scored 33 goals and had 15 assists to lead North Platte to the state tournament. She also has the school record for career goals (75 in just three seasons) and match (six).
What she’s known for: “Her foot skills are phenomenal and she can maneuver around anyone on the field. She is a top-notch competitor who has the drive of a marathon runner and the aggression of a warrior.” — North Platte coach Sarah Kaminski
𝙈𝙞𝙙𝙛𝙞𝙚𝙡𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙇𝙞𝙣𝙘𝙤𝙡𝙣 𝙀𝙖𝙨𝙩 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: Lincoln East scored a ton of goals this season, and Peterson was a big reason why in helping the Spartans build the attack in the midfield. She had 15 goals and eight assists. She was dangerous on free kicks, and scored two goals at the state tournament on impressive free kicks. She ranks No. 9 in program history for career points (80) and No. 10 in career goals (30).
What she’s known for: “Her overall creativity in the midfield helped us be a dangerous attacking team. Her first touch and confidence with the ball at her feet is beautiful to watch.” — Lincoln East coach Emily Mathews
𝘿𝙚𝙛𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙊𝙢𝙖𝙝𝙖 𝘽𝙪𝙧𝙠𝙚 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: She put up big numbers for a defender with eight goals and four assists. She’ll play college soccer at Creighton.
Super-State moments: “Her free kicks were dangerous from anyplace on the field. Alyssa helped open our season's scoring by assisting our first goal of the season from a huge free kick from our defensive end 80 yards from goal that one of our forwards got on the end of and put in from 35 yards out. That moment replayed three more times with the same forward, and two of them in huge games.” — Omaha Burke coach Brian Anderson
𝘿𝙚𝙛𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙊𝙢𝙖𝙝𝙖 𝙈𝙖𝙧𝙞𝙖𝙣 /// 𝙟𝙪𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: After a few losses early in the season, Gonzalez helped Marian have a 10-match winning streak to get back to the state tournament semifinals.
What she’s known for: “Avi is a fantastic defender. She is aggressive, quick, and reads the game very well. She has a tremendous work rate." — Omaha Marian coach Teresa DeGeorge
𝙂𝙤𝙖𝙡𝙠𝙚𝙚𝙥𝙚𝙧 /// 𝙉𝙤𝙧𝙩𝙝 𝙋𝙡𝙖𝙩𝙩𝙚 /// 𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙞𝙤𝙧
The details: She had the crowd buzzing at the state tournament with all of her saves against Omaha Marian that kept the Bulldogs in the match before losing 1-0 in overtime. She made 202 saves this season. Orr had a 2-0 record in shootouts, including winning a shootout against Class B No. 1 Omaha Skutt. She tied the school record for career shutouts (26) despite being the starting goalkeeper for only two seasons. She’ll play college softball at Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Super-State moments: “When we played Omaha Skutt and took the game to a shootout, Abby had two keys saves in the shootout to let us go on to hand Omaha Skutt their only loss of the season. An obvious defining moment would be her game against Omaha Marian at the state tournament, where she held off a barrage of 25-plus shots allowing us to take Omaha Marian into overtime after going 0-0 in regulation play. She was all over the place making saves that shocked everyone watching.” — North Platte coach Sarah Kaminski