Omaha Skutt is the unofficial state champion in high school boys soccer for the 2020 season.
The Nebraska School Activities Association season was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Cornhusker State Games added a high school soccer division for the first time to allow the teams to play a few matches and get an idea of who some of the better teams would have been this year. The tournament was the idea of Papillion-La Vista South assistant coach Nik Stevenson, and that team reached the final.
Skutt beat Papillion-La Vista South 2-1 in a shootout in the championship match Sunday at the Lincoln Sports Foundation complex. The SkyHawks won the shootout 5-3, and the players sprinted to celebrate with freshman Sam Schendt after he made the winning kick.
This school year Omaha Skutt won NSAA state championships in football, boys cross country, boys basketball and volleyball.
There were 14 teams in the State Games tournament from both Class A and B schools. Lincoln Southwest, Grand Island, Columbus, Papillion-La Vista, Lincoln East and Creighton Prep also advanced to the quarterfinals. Southwest forfeited its quarterfinal match after a player tested positive for COVID-19.
The tournament was played over two weeks. It was a dramatic tournament for Skutt, with its final three matches going to overtime. Skutt beat Creighton Prep 2-1 in overtime in the quarterfinals, and the SkyHawks beat Papillion-La Vista 1-0 in overtime in the semifinals. Skutt had a 4-0 record in pool play, and finished 7-0 overall.
The SkyHawks trailed for most of the championship match before freshman Tyler Phillips tied the match with about 12 minutes left in regulation.
Papio South had taken the lead in the first half on a goal by Andre Santa Maria.
Omaha Skutt made all of its kicks in the shootout, by Caleb Vos, Andrew Davison, Zach Ourada, Aidan Trumm and Schendt.
And goalie Zach Weis made a save in the second round of the five-round shootout that allowed the SkyHawks to win.
“It was a great shot,” Weis said. “He opened his hips a little bit to that side, and I knew from there where he was going and I just got over there in time. It was super-exciting to get the boys ahead.”
Weis was also the goalie when Skutt won the Class B state championship last year in a shootout against Columbus.
Weis said it was fun to get the guys back together.
“It was great to get back out here after having sat at home for three months, pretty much,” Weis said.
Skutt coach Justin Zabawa said that when the season began in March, the goal was to win back-to-back state championships.
“The team we had coming in we were pretty confident, and pretty proud of the team we were going to have,” Zabawa said. “Coming out here and winning, it’s a little bittersweet moment because you just never know what the season could have been like.”
Both teams were able to wear their official school uniforms. There were about 400 spectators for Sunday’s match, and the action was pretty intense, especially in the final 10 minutes of regulation.
“They were focused, and they wanted to win, especially when you’re going against all of the Class A opponents,” Zabawa said.
Only one of the Skutt seniors chose to play, while some of the teams in the tournament had most of their seniors. Phillips was one of the players moved up from the JV team to play in the tournament, and he scored the tying goal in the championship.
While the State Games won’t replace the season, it was nice to be back on the pitch.
“It’s not the same, but any soccer is good soccer,” Weis said.