For 60 minutes, the Grand Island Senior High girls soccer team battled with Lincoln Southeast Thursday evening.
But the next 10 minutes showed why the Knights are rated No. 7 in Class A.
After having some misses early on, Southeast scored all of its goals in that stretch to come away with a 4-0 victory at Grand Island Memorial Stadium.
The game was not only Southeast’s first game of the season, but it was also its third time outside during the season. The Knights practiced in the gym for most of the preseason because of the snow and rain. LSE coach Jim Ageton said he felt the Knights got more of a feel as the game went on.
“Practicing in the gym made it tough for us to know the width of the field, but I thought it got better as the game went on,” Ageton said. “The first 20 minutes were kind of sloppy. The next 20 minutes was better and got even better in the first 20 minutes of the second half. The last 20 minutes was more to our liking.”
Grand Island coach Benny Hanaphy said he was more than pleased with the effort, especially coming off a 2-1 overtime victory over Columbus on Monday.
“I can’t fault the effort of the girls,” he said. “The girls have worked hard in the offseason and it’s showing. For us to be competitive with one of the top teams in the state for 60 minutes was fantastic for us. That’s a team that has beaten us by the mercy rule many times in the past. Our gameplan was to stay disciplined against them and we did that for much of the game.”
Even though the score was scoreless at the half, Southeast missed numerous opportunities for goals.
They had 18 shots in the first half but couldn’t connect on any. Many of those kicks either hit or just missed the upper crossbar.
One of the reasons the Islanders were still in the game was because of goalkeeper Quincy Gomez, who came up with numerous saves.
“She really played well for us,” Hanaphy said. “She sometimes doubts herself and I don’t see why she does because I think she has a chance to be one of the better goalkeepers in the state.”
Grand Island had a golden opportunity for its only goal when Katie Zuelow was one-on-one with a Southeast defender, but her shot went straight to Knight goalkeeper Jillian Dloughy in the second half.
The shots Southeast missed in the first half went its way in the second half, but not until the 58th-minute mark. Chloe Heller found a seam and kicked the ball past Gomez for the game’s opening goal.
A short time later, Southeast scored again on a Trinity Babcock penalty kick to make it 2-0. Kieran Burkey and Cassie Nash each put in goals for the final margin.
“(The first goal) was deflating just because we were playing so well defensively,” Hanaphy said. “We shut them down a few times but they caught a goal. There was kind of a drop-off after that and it was hard to respond after that. Then the penalty kick came and that was more deflating for our girls.”
Thursday was the start of a four games in a five-day stretch for the Islanders. They travel to Lincoln North Star Friday, then host Omaha South Saturday, then head to Norfolk Monday.
Hanaphy said all Grand Island can do is move forward.
“We have a tough stretch right now. We may have some tired legs afterwards but we’ll have some excited minds,” he said. “The girls can take a lot of positives from today and build for the rest of the season.”