Nebraska Soccer Preview: Huskers Batter Dakotas in Warm-Up Matches

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The Nebraska Women’s Soccer team played host to the University of South Dakota Coyotes and North Dakota State University Bison.  The Huskers made the games tough for the two Summit League sides from the Dakotas.  The Nebraska attack kept two shutouts while scoring 5 goals against USD on Wednesday (8/11) and 8 goals against NDSU on Friday (8/13). Nebraska fans were able to get an early look at the young attack that features highly-rated prep goalscorers Sarah Weber, Haley Peterson, Allison Napora, and Abbey Schwarz.  Coach John Walker handed debuts to most, if not all, of the new players in these two games and the Huskers fans also got to see the depth of the roster in this exhibition. As was true with the Omaha-Iowa State exhibition, the exhibition format is usually not good for game breakdowns and analysis, so below are some observations that we saw from the NDSU exhibition. Firepower Up Front Eleanor Dale, the sophomore forward from England, was a force early last Spring for the Huskers before being sidelined by injury.  Dale can score goals in multiple ways, which she showcased on Friday vs the NDSU Bison.  She scored an incredible header goal from a corner kick to open the scoring for the Huskers, and she followed that up in the second period with a great piece of skill followed by a cool finish.  If Dale can score consistently, the Huskers will be in good shape. The Husker attack as a whole is both youthful and talented.  Reagan Raabe returns after a promising freshman year Spring season.  She will probably see time in both the midfield and the forward line.  Abbey Schwarz, Haley Peterson, Allison Napora, and Sarah Weber all look to be promising additions to the forward line.  The coaching staff won’t be lacking options up top, that is a guarantee. Senior Leadership While most of the attack is on the younger side of things, the core and spine of the team behind them has some considerable experience.  Seniors Dakota Chan and Theresa Pujado patrolled the midfield area against North Dakota State, while Seniors Ashley Zugay and Grace Brown slotted into their spots in the center of the backline. One player that was missing against NDSU who will be vital to the Husker success this year was Kenzie Coons.  Coons, who is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained this summer playing in the UWS league, is an important piece of the Husker midfield.  If she is in the game it may allow the Huskers to move Raabe forward into a more dangerous and attacking role. Set Piece Practice The Huskers got a lot of set piece practice on Friday against NDSU.  The Huskers won 10 corner kicks, scoring off 2, and had several other dangerous free kick opportunities.  The Huskers are definitely not the tallest team in the Big Ten, but they have some quality set piece sets and some dangerous targets that should help them score goals this season. Goal production from set pieces for the Huskers is going to be important.  The Huskers finished last in the Big 10 in goals scored this past Spring, and they finished second to last in 2019.  While they have added some dynamic attacking pieces, they are going to need to execute from dead ball situations to help increase their goal totals and tip tight games more in their favor.  Set piece success can turn close losses into draws and draws into wins. Stoneburner Returns To Action Katie Stoneburner made her Husker debut this Fall in these two exhibition matches, coming off the bench both times.  What Stoneburner’s role will be exactly is still uncertain (for me, I am sure the coaches and Katie know her role going forward).  She is a midfielder, but we have heard rumblings that there could be a move to the backline in the cards for her.  Gwen Lane has made the switch from forward to outside back, and so far that has proven to be successful for the player and the program.  I have no doubt that this potential move could pay off in a similar way for Stoneburner and the program. The bigger reason that Stoneburner’s return is noteworthy is because she is returning from a COVID-related heart condition she battled last year.  Katie is a good storyteller, and her YouTube channel is a great place to start if you are interested in an inside look on the Husker program and the players. Unanswered Questions A couple unanswered questions as the Huskers head into the beginning of their season.  At the time of writing this, they have not kicked off against Western Illinois yet. First, who is going to be the Husker number one goalkeeper?  Junior Makinzie Short was the starter and primary goalkeeper last Spring, but the Huskers have added Sophomore Arizona transfer Sami Hauk to the fold.  Short and Hauk split time fairly equally in the exhibition games, and I am not sure how Coach Walker and the coaching staff handle goalkeeper competitions, if there is one.  We aren’t at every training session either, where a lot of goalkeeper competitions are decided as well.  Both goalkeepers have the ability to do well for the Huskers. Second, how will the Huskers fare as their competition gets tougher?  The Huskers open up with their third Summit League opponent in Western Illinois.  After that, their schedule gets significantly tougher in a hurry.  The Big 10 is no picnic as a soccer conference either.  It’s all well and good to watch Sarah Weber ghost past three defenders and the goalkeeper to put the ball in an empty net (that was the goal of the game for the Huskers against NDSU), but can she do that on cool Fall Sunday in Minneapolis, Minnesota?  Abbey Schwarz and Allison Napora terrorized the wings of USD and NDSU, but can they do that to Iowa?  Haley Peterson put some NDSU defenders on skates, but how will she handle Wisconsin defenders?  The answer to those questions are unknown, but I am looking forward to finding out. Third, will the Huskers truly finish 12th in the Big 10?  The Huskers have had a tough run the last few seasons, and what has made it tougher has been that the Huskers have been competitive in most of their games.  This isn’t a team that is getting regularly blown out by conference or non-conference opponents.  The Huskers losing games by multiple goals is not a regular occurrence.  Could the Huskers finish 12th?  Yes.  Could they finish 6th?  Also, yes.  The margins are fairly thin game-to-game in the Big 10, and if a team can get on a run of results, even over 2 weekends, that can shift the season. Final Thoughts The exhibition game against NDSU was fun.  There was a great crowd, the atmosphere was great, and the Huskers put on an attacking show for the fans.  Hibner is a fantastic venue for the sport.  I think the Huskers enter this season with a determination to improve on past years, and it will be interesting to watch them have a go at a difficult schedule.


Mavericks Fall To Cyclones In Season Opening Exhibition

The Omaha Maverick Women’s Soccer team hosted the Iowa State Cyclones in a very early season exhibition.  The two teams played three, 30-minute periods, and fans were able to see most of the 2021 Maverick roster.  While the rain held off, the Mavericks were unable to hold off the Cyclones conceding a corner kick goal in the third period.

 Head Coach Tim Walters was able to hand debuts to four freshmen (Cece Behrens, Sena Ahovissi, Reagan Bourgeois, and Kayla Futakami) and three transfers (Mo Gohr, Meg Nemnich, and Rachel Thigpen).  Despite all of the new faces, Maverick fans would have noticed almost no changes from the starting line-up from Spring 2021 to opening day of Fall 2021.  The Mavericks are a team of youthful experience, but they are led by Senior Centerback Margaret LaVigne and Senior Forward Andrea Daves.

Exhibitions typically aren’t great for true game breakdowns, so below are some general thoughts about the Mavericks’ season from the game today.  Important not to read too much into the game as both teams have been into their season for less than a week.

New Players Show Well

I was impressed by the early showings of the new Mavericks.  Former Skutt Skyhawk standout Behrens made appearances in both the midfield and the defense, though I thought she was better in the former.  Even as a freshman, Behrens looks the part on the field.  Ahovissi, who was an integral part of Millard North’s successful 2021 season, showed well at outside back, showing good pace and defensive ability.  Bourgeouis and Futakami are the two freshmen I am least familiar with, but their performances today bode well for the future both this season and beyond.  As the freshmen continue to grow more comfortable with the team and the level of play, I expect them to come out of their shell and grow in their aggressiveness and speed of play

Gohr, a Kansas State transfer who trained with the Mavs this Spring, started up top for the Mavericks and should help generate more goal-scoring chances.  Nemnich, a Memphis transfer, will provide good competition and support in the midfield.  Finally, Rachel Thigpen, who had an outstanding career at NAIA Midland University, will provide some extra competition and mentorship for the other goalkeepers on the roster.  In the brief moments from Saturday’s scrimmage, it is of my opinion that Thigpen could have been a NCAA Division I goalkeeper her entire career, but she probably wouldn’t trade the success and experience she had at Midland for that.

Playing Out Of The Back

While it is early days for the Fall 2021 season, the Maverick backline showed signs of some of the things I saw them struggle with last season at times.  Composure on the ball, decision making, and execution when playing the ball out of the back caused some breakdowns last Spring, and we saw some of that again on Saturday.  There was some experimentation in the backline which certainly can lead to mistakes, and if you take Margaret Lavigne out of the equation the backline is quite young still.  I have no doubt that this will be an area of great growth, as the players the Mavericks have in the back are both talented enough and experienced enough to improve.  I expect that by the time conference season rolls around, some of those issues will be drastically improved or completely resolved.

Promising Midfield

Put aside the usual early season match sharpness critiques, and the Omaha midfield is looking very promising.  I think fans are going to enjoy watching both the starters and the depth that comes off the bench this season.  The coaching staff may have some selection headaches (in a good way) later this season and in the future, depending on how all of the players develop.  Regan Zimmers is an incredibly hard worker and covers an amazing amount of ground.  Grace Ostergaard is a tough but skilled player with already a ton of experience (over 1,500 minutes in the Spring).  Emilie Erland, Behrens, Meg Nemnich, Gracie Parsons, and Bourgeouis all bring something different to the table and give Coach Walters plenty of options this season.

Set Pieces

One thing I thought the Mavericks did really during the Spring 2021 season was both their attacking and defending of set pieces.  This was an area of struggle for them on Saturday, as Iowa State generated their best chances and eventually their goal off of set pieces.  The Mavericks did not generate much from their own corner kicks, but again, this is something I expect them to turn around.

I paid special attention to Behrens when she was in the mix for corner kicks.  Behrens was an incredible set piece target in her prep career and I expect that to continue into her college career.  She didn’t get on the end of a set piece on Saturday, but she escaped her marker every single time the Mavs had a set piece and she was on the field.


The Press

One thing I thought the Mavs did really well for early in the season was how they pressed and defended as a team at times.  When Iowa State had the ball in their backline, the Maverick forwards, midfielders, and outside backs did a great job of pressing and defending together causing Iowa State to play long or turn the ball over.  The Mavericks were a tough team to break down last season, and I expect that to continue this Fall.  This is something that is a very positive early season sign for the Mavericks, and leads into my next point.


Creating Chances

I think it is sometimes the most frustrating thing about early season exhibitions.  The attackers haven’t quite found their rhythm or connection yet.  That alone can be frustrating, and it is even more difficult when coming up against a challenging, Power 5 opponent.  The Mavericks return both Sophia Green (Summit League Newcomer of the Year) and Daves (UNO Division I career leader in assists) and also welcome Gohr to the attacking fold.  I think the Mavericks will fare better in the attack than they did on Saturday, but it may take a few games for the players and coaches to find the right combinations and the sharpness.


Final Thoughts

For a first week exhibition match against a Big XII opponent, I think the Mavericks played well.  It’s less than a month until Nebraska Soccer Talk plans on being in attendance for the UN derby, when the Mavericks travel down the road to take on the Cornhuskers.  I for one am really excited to see the growth between now and then.


The Mavericks play their entire conference season in the month of March this year, starting with Denver on October 1st and ending with South Dakota on Halloween.  My prediction and expectations for the Mavericks is another top 4 finish in the Summit League, and a trip to the 2021 Summit League Tournament.


Senior Send-Off (Class A Boys)

Before you start scrolling the list, please read the opening carefully.

First, not every senior is on this list.  There are several reasons behind this.  Some players I couldn’t find stats, accolades, or information on, but all of these seniors on this list are here because someone (the player themselves, their parents, their coaches, a teammate, and we even had another player’s parent reach out to make sure someone was included).  We did not leave anyone off on purpose.

The second piece, there may be some slight inaccuracies or missing information in this article.  I got my information from many different sources, including some sources that are not always correct (namely social media and MaxPreps statistics).  On top of that, no matter how hard I tried to log in and pay for a Lincoln Journal Star account (to access their postseason awards), their website wouldn’t accept any of my credit cards.  Local newspapers shouldn’t complain about their readership when they don’t have a functioning and easy website for readers to pay for access, but I digress.

Lastly, Chace and I enjoyed covering high school soccer immensely this season and we can’t wait to do an even better job next Spring.  We have been blessed to receive a little support from coaches and parents over the past two weeks, and we will thank them when the time is right, but we can also use more support.  We will be coming out with a Patreon account this summer, but if you would like to get the ball rolling on your support now you can visit our Nebraska Soccer Talk Venmo:  

Any individuals that support us now, will be instantly included in the Patreon supporters group when we get it started and will receive benefits in line with their support!

Class A Boys – Senior Send-Off

Jayden Kreis – Goalkeeper, Papillion La Vista – Kreis was a 2-year starter for the Papillion La Vista Monarchs.  In that time, he compiled a 20-14 record with 10 shutouts.  Kreis is committed to Buena Vista University Soccer, a Division III school in Storm Lake, Iowa.  Omaha World Herald Class Honorable Mention.

Efren Flores – Goalkeeper, Millard South – The Patriots rode Cooney Magic and a solid goalkeeper (and captain) in Efren Flores to their first state tournament berth in many years.  Flores’ performances earned him a nod on the OWH Class A Second Team nod and a LJS Class A Honorable Mention. Flores is committed to Concordia (NE) University to continue his education and soccer career.

Alexander Arriola – Midfielder, Bellevue East – Arriola was captain of the Bellevue East Soccer and plays club soccer for Gretna Elite Academy.  Per his Twitter, Arriola has committed to continuing his career at Upper Iowa University Soccer, a Division II school in Fayette, Iowa.

Cole Lammel – Defender, Millard South – Lammel was a three-year member of the Millard South Patriots Varsity.  The Millard South squad made the 2021 State Tournament this year.  Lammel was named to the LJS Super State First Team and the Class A All State team.  Also named to the OWH First Team All Nebraska, First Team Class A, and First Team All-Metro.  Per his Twitter, Lammel will be joining Northwest Missouri State Football as a kicker/punter, Northwest Missouri State is a Division II powerhouse located in Maryville, Missouri.

 Nick Sells – Defender, Papillion La Vista – Sells appeared in the 35 matches in his career for the Papillion La Vista Monarchs.  He was a Class A Honorable Mention by the LJS and OWH.  He is continuing his soccer career at Carroll University, a Division III school in Waukesha, WI.

Patrick Long – Forward, Gretna – Long notched 7 goals and 2 assists (in 8 games) for Gretna High School en route to State Championship berth and a semifinal finish.  Goal of the season candidate against Bryan in District Finals.  Long is continuing his soccer career at Midland University.  Long earned Class A Honorable Mention honors from Omaha World Herald.  Long also picked up MVP honors from the SONE Senior Soccer Showcase.

Sam Sundstrom – Defender, Elkhorn South – Appeared in all 15 games for the Storm in the 2021 season, earned Class A Honorable Mention from LJS and second team all-metro from OWH.

Haider Al-Barakat – Forward, Lincoln East – Earned Class A Honorable Mention from LJS, Class A second team from OWH, and named to the 2020 Nebraska U18 Boys Best XI during the 2020 Nebraska State Cup.  Barakat notches 13 goals and 5 assists for the Lincoln East Spartans in the 2021 season.

Jacob Miller – Midfielder, Lincoln Southeast – Earned Class A Honorable Mention from LJS and OWH.  Notched 2 goals and 1 assist this season.  Helped lead Knights to 2021 Class A State Tournament.

Caden Linsea – Midfielder, Gretna – Linsea just committed his future to Nebraska Wesleyan University.  He was a member of a Gretna team that finished its season in the State Tournament Semi-Finals.  Caden plays his club soccer for Gretna Elite Academy.

Eli Rhodes – Midfielder, Lincoln Southwest – Rhodes, the scorer of one of the most dramatic goals in recent State Championship history, was named to the LJS Super State team, OWH All Nebraska First team, and Class A All-State team.  Eli finished high school with a 3.9 GPA, and finished this season with 15 goals and 16 assists.  Rhodes is headed to Dakota Wesleyan where he will continue his academic and soccer careers.

Cedar Moyer – Forward, Gretna – Moyer shared the points lead for Gretna, but led the Dragons in assists this year.  He helped the Dragons reach the State Tournament Semifinals, and his consistent performers put him in the LJS Super State Second Team, OWH All Nebraska Second Team, OWH All-Metro team as well as the Class A All-State Team.  Moyer has committed to continuing his education and his soccer career at NJCAA powerhouse, Iowa Western Community College.

Damien Tran – Midfielder, Lincoln Southeast – Tran earned Class A Honorable Mention from LJS and OWH, notching 1 goal and 1 assist and helping lead Lincoln Southeast to the 2021 State Tournament.  Tran plans to attend the University of Nebraska and study Pre-Medicine.

Emanuel “Wawa” Palga – Midfielder, Omaha South – One of the most interesting final games of a high school player’s career did not stop Wawa Palga from earning his proper place in the LJS Super State First Team and the Class A All State Team.  Palga also earned the prestigious award of captain of OWH All Nebraska First Team, and was named to the Class A and Metro first teams.  Wawa was one of the most entertaining players to watch in Nebraska Boys Soccer this year, stacking up 11 goals and 5 assists while dazzling fans with his skill and speed on the ball.  He is awaiting a D1 offer to play college soccer at the next level.

Kevin Becerril – Forward, Omaha South – Kevin Becerril led the front-line for the State Champion and nationally ranked Omaha South Packers.  Becerril combined consistent finishing skill with solid hold-up play to finish top in the state in goals, and second in the state in points.  Becerril’s performances netted him a spot on the LJS Super State First team, OWH All Nebraska 1st team, OWH First team all-Metro, as well as the Class A All State team.

Luis Garcia – Midfielder, Omaha South – Luis Garcia was a consistent performer for the State Champion Packers.  While he didn’t necessarily stack up the state-wide accolades (apart from his Class A Honorable Mention and Second Team All-Metro), he played an important midfield role for Omaha South.  He had 4 player of the game performances for Omaha South this season.

David Rojas – Midfielder, Omaha South – Rojas was my player to watch for the Packers before the State Championship game, and he ended up scoring a goal.  Rojas was an unsung player for the Packers for most of the season, but he had clutch moments when it mattered including earlier in the season versus Creighton Prep.  Rojas was a Class A Honorable Mention.

Ian Krenzer – Goalkeeper, Creighton Prep – Krenzer captained the Junior Jays to a 2021 State Semifinal appearance, and earned a spot as a LJS and OWH Class A Honorable Mention.  4.1 GPA, and missed only a couple games due to injury.  Krenzer plays club soccer for NFC, and plans to continue his education at University of Nebraska Lincoln for business.

Tristan Rainey – Defender, Omaha Northwest – LJS and OWH Class A All-State Honorable Mention.

Peyton Hylok – Defender, Papillion La Vista South – Hylok made his mark this season as a LJS and OWH Class A Honorable Mention and Co-Captain of Papillion La Vista South Boys Soccer.  Hylok is heading to the Kansas City area to continue his education and soccer career at Johnson County Community College.

Collin Manzano – Forward, North Platte – Manzano, the Southeast Community College soccer commit, scored 3 goals and dished out 6 assists for the North Platte Bulldogs.

Ian Becerra – Midfielder, Lincoln High – Becerra was a Class A All-State Selection by the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World Herald.  This Spring, Becerra scored 9 goals and notched 5 assists.  Becerra is continuing his education and soccer career at Santa Rosa Junior College in California.  Along with being a stand out 4 year soccer player, Ian was also a four year letterwinner in Cross Country.  

Chance Hergott – Defender, Papillion La Vista South – Chance Hergott made the most of his senior season earning Academic All-State, as well as LJS and OWH All State Honorable Mention honors.  The athletic and talented left back is heading to Truman State University where he will study in business and compete for their soccer team.

Caden Tubaugh – Forward, Millard West – Tubaugh had a solid sophomore season, earning OWH Class A All State Honorable Mention, but his 2020-2021 year will be one for the books.  In 2020, Tubaugh won a State Cup with Gretna Elite Academy and committed his future to nationally-ranked NCAA Division II Maryville University.  This Spring, The 6’1” Tubaugh tallied 11 goals and 12 assists and played nearly every minute of every match, leading Millard West to a State Tournament appearance (where he netted against champions Omaha South in a losing effort).  He picked up postseason awards galore, including but not limited to LJS Super State, LJS Class A All State, OWH All Nebraska First team, OWH All-Metro first team, and Millard West Boys MVP.

Arturo Castro – Forward, Norfolk – LJS Class A All-State Honorable Mention.  Castro tallied 5 goals and 3 assists this season for the Panthers.

Jeff Sumaili – Midfielder, Omaha Burke – Sumaili netted 5 goals and 7 assists for the Burke Bulldogs, en route to LJS and OWH Class A All-State Honorable Mentions.

Ryan Brakke – Midfielder, Creighton Prep – Ryan Brakke, an LJS First Team Super State, OWH Class A First Team, OWH All Nebraska Second Team, and OWH All-Metro selection, helped lead the Junior Jays to a semifinal appearance in this spring’s state tournament.  Cited by his coach as both a tremendous leader and player, Brakke is staying in town and graduating from Junior Jay to Blue Jay.  The midfield standout has committed his future to the Creighton University soccer team.  Brakke plays club soccer for Sporting Omaha FC.

Soe She – Forward, Lincoln High – Soe is a young player who has persevered through some great adversity.  A Karen refugee, who lost his father at a young age, Soe She will be the first of his family to attend college when he attends Southeast Community College this Fall.  He plans to pursue a degree in electromechanical engineering.  Soe She is a talented soccer player, kind-hearted person, and always has a great attitude despite the challenges he has had to face.  We want to thank Janet Scott for sharing Soe’s story with us.

Anthony Acosta – Midfield, Grand Island – The midfielder from Grand Island helped lead his team to a State Tournament berth.  Next year, Acosta will continue his education and his soccer career at Dakota Wesleyan.  OWH Class A All State Honorable Mention

Caiden Lawn – Defender, Kearney – Defender Caiden Lawn was one of the veterans of a young Kearney Bearcat team.  Lawn was named LJS and OWH Class A All State Honorable Mention and earned Academic All-State Honors.  

Alex Eby – Defender, Papillion La Vista South – Eby was a 2021 OWH All-Nebraska, Class A, and all-Metro Second Team selection as well as being a LJS Class A All State Honorable Mention.

Cole Hoppe – Defender, Bellevue West –  Cole Hoppe was named all-state honorable mention as both a Sophomore and a Senior.  He was also named captain before the COVID-cancelled junior year and maintained that role for Bellevue West as a senior.  Hope is an incredible student, earning Academic All-State as a senior, a #1 Class Rank at Bellevue West, and a spot in the Bellevue West 30+ ACT Club.  He served as a DECA officer his junior and senior years.  Hoppe has committed to William Jewell College, where he will continue his soccer career and his education.  He plans to study Data Science and Statistics.

Martin Fuentes – Midfielder/Forward, Bellevue West – Fuentes was a 2021 LJS Class A All State Honorable Mention and a OWH All-Metro Second Team award winner.

Diego Salas – Forward, Grand Island – Salas, a LJS and OWH All State Honorable Mention, tallied 10 goals and 12 assists this season.  He helped the Islanders to a berth in the 2021 State Tournament. Salas is continuing his academic and soccer career at Southeast Community College.

Nolan Fuelberth – Goalkeeper, Lincoln Southwest – 2021 Super State Selection by LJS and All Nebraska First Team Selection by OWH, Fuelberth made 72 saves and only allowed 7 goals.  Nolan took Southwest to the brink of a State Championship game.  A goalkeeper with many strengths, Fuelberth is committed to Division I Northern Illinois.  Fuelberth was Nebraska Soccer Talk’s Class A Boys Player of the Year as well as the LJS player of the year and is one of the best players (if not the best) in the entire state.

Braden Lackey – Forward, Lincoln Southwest – Despite being surprisingly denied a spot on LJS’ Super State and OWH First teams, Lackey is one of the best goalscorers in the state earning all-state, all conference, and LSW golden boot honors.  Lackey also named to the OWH All-Nebraska second team.  The leading goal-scorer for Class A runner-ups Lincoln Southwest and the 3rd leading goalscorer in Class A, Lackey also showed he could be a provider, tallying 9 assists.  Lackey’s combination of size and skill caused problems for every defensive unit that had to deal with him.  Lackey completed a decorated youth and prep career where he succeeded at the high school, club, and ODP levels.  He was a constant presence on the Nebraska ODP squad.  He plays his club soccer for Gretna Elite Academy, where he was a part of the 2020 State Cup winning team and will travel to the Midwest Regional Championships this year.  Braden is heading to Doane University next Fall, where he will continue his soccer career and his education.

Carter Hinman – Forward, Gretna – Carter Hinman had himself a senior year, with a great memory that it was probably his goal that led to the fence-breaking celebrations in Gretna’s district final.  He notched 14 goals and 4 assists, as he helped Gretna to a semifinal finish in this year’s State Tournament.  His personal and team success was rewarded with a spot on the LJS Super State Second Team, OWH All Nebraska First Team, OWH All-Metro first team, as well as the Class A Boys All-State Team.  Carter is headed to Concordia (NE) University to continue his education and his soccer career.

Carter Novosad – Forward, Lincoln Southwest – Novosad, the 5’11” senior, was a part of the Class A Runners-up Lincoln Southwest.  Novosad, who netted 5 goals and 3 assists this season, is committed to continuing his education and his college soccer career at Drury University.

Johnny Le – Midfielder/Defender, Lincoln Southwest – Le was a part of the Class A Runners-up Lincoln Southwest.  He was a big contributor to what made the Lincoln side so difficult to score on all season.  Le is committed to continuing his education and soccer career at Drury University.

Clayton Monroe – Goalkeeper, Lincoln Southwest – In case you were wondering how loaded Lincoln Southwest was at goalkeeper, Monroe was the backup behind Division I commit Nolan Fuelberth.  Monroe, a Rockhurst University commitment himself, played his club soccer for Capital Soccer Association out of Lincoln.

Spencer Kaufman – Westside – The Westside Warrior and Sporting Omaha player is committed to continuing his education and soccer career at Concordia (NE) University.

Braeden Bestmann – Defender, Lincoln Southwest – Bestmann was a consistent and talented defensive presence for the Class A Runners Up, and he has been rewarded handsomely for his efforts.  The Lincoln Southwest captain was named LJS First Team Super State, LJS First Team Class A, OWH All Nebraska Second Team, and OWH Class A First Team.  Bestmann was also named Academic All-State.

Brage Sather-Larsen – Forward, Omaha Bryan – Sather-Larsen scored lots of goals and picked up lots of awards this year.  The 15-goal scorer was named to the OWH Class A Second Team, OWH All-Metro First Team, OWH All-Nebraska Second Team, LJS Super State Second Team, and LJS Class A All-State.  A fantastic season for the Bryan striker.

Payton King – Forward, Grand Island Northwest – King scored 5 goals and dished 2 assists this Spring.  Helped GINW to a state tournament berth, named 2nd team all-conference in the Central Conference. King participated in the CCC and SONE showcases and is currently contemplating an offer from Mount Marty University Men’s Soccer to continue his soccer and academic careers.


Chace and I enjoyed covering high school soccer immensely this season and we can’t wait to do an even better job next Spring.  We have been blessed to receive a little support from coaches and parents over the past two weeks, and we will thank them when the time is right, but we can also use more support.  We will be coming out with a Patreon account this summer, but if you would like to get the ball rolling on your support now you can visit our Nebraska Soccer Talk Venmo:



Summit League Tournament Preview

The Summit League Women’s Soccer Championship kicks off with the semifinal games on Thursday, April 15th, and the championship game on the 17th.  The tournament is being played at Caniglia Field on the campus of University of Nebraska Omaha.  The first game (2 PM Kickoff) features the top seed University of Denver taking on the 4th seed University of South Dakota, and the second game (5 PM kickoff) features the hosts Omaha and the 2nd seed South Dakota State University.  This article will preview the tournament, the teams, and the match ups as we have an exciting week of soccer ahead of us.

The Tournament

While the Summit League may not be the toughest league when it comes to overall RPI, it’s tournament is one of the toughest postseason tournaments to qualify for.  Unlike most other Division I conferences, only 4 teams of the 9 make the Summit League conference tournament.  This differs greatly from other similar Division I mid-major conferences (see below for non-COVID year comparison).  The separation between the squads and the type of soccer that is played in the conference makes it a battle every year to make the tournament.  Personally, I think the Summit League Conference needs to consider bumping up the total number of teams to 6.  The winner of the conference tournament gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, it is unlikely but the Summit League may get two teams in, thanks in part to Denver and South Dakota State’s high RPI.

Conference Tournaments (non-COVID years)

Conference # of Teams in Conference # of Teams in Tournament
Summit League 9 4
Missouri Valley 9 6
WAC 9 6
America East 9 6
Patriot League 10 6

The Teams

#1 University of Denver

Record: 14-2-1 Overall, 14-1-1 Conference

RPI: 39

Coach: Jeff Hooker (29th Season)

Nebraska Players: 

  • None

Key Players:

  • Natalie Beckman, junior forward from Denver, CO, has tallied 10 goals and 12 assists for a total of 32 points.  She leads the Summit League in all three categories, and is probably the Summit League Offensive Player of the Year.
  • Taylor Parker, senior defender from Aurora, CO, has started and played in 15 games this Spring for the Pioneers.  Twice earning defensive player of the week honors, the 2019 Summit League First Teamer, is a leader and an important piece in Denver’s defense.


Denver is a really talented team and they have put together a really solid season, and they are deservedly receiving national attention for it.  With that said, they are not out of reach of the rest of the tournament field.  Both Omaha and South Dakota played to close 1 goal losses, with South Dakota taking Denver to overtime.  South Dakota State is the only conference team to put a notch in Denver’s “loss” column, the Jacks also tied Denver on that weekend.  Denver is also coming off a road trip to Kansas City last weekend, and it is a quick turnaround to travel again and play on Thursday.  While I fully expect the Pioneers to be in the championship game, don’t be surprised if they leave Omaha empty-handed and disappointed.

#2 South Dakota State University

Record: 12-0-4 Overall, 12-0-4 Conference

RPI: 41

Coach: Brock Thompson (4th season)

Nebraska Players:

  • Maureen Tolley (Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Marian / Gretna Soccer Club
  • Reagan Anderson (Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Elkhorn South / Gretna Soccer Club
  • Delaney Grant (Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Millard North / Gretna Soccer Club
  • Cecilia Limongi (Junior) – Elkhorn, NE – Elkhorn South / Elite Girls Academy
  • Abigail Kastens (Junior) – Lincoln, NE – Waverly / Gretna Soccer Club

Key Players:

  • Maya Hansen, sophomore forward from Savage, MN, has tallied 7 goals and 2 assists for a total of 16 points.  Hansen started and played in all 16 matches for the Jacks, and was named Summit League Player of the Week after scoring a hat trick against UMKC.
  • Eden Brooker, senior midfielder from Santa Rosa, CA, has tallied 4 goals and 3 assists for a total of 11 points.  Brooker started and played in all 16 matches for the Jacks, and was twice named Summit League Player of the Week.


South Dakota State has quietly put together an excellent season.  No matter the circumstances, going unbeaten in a regular season is an impressive feat.  South Dakota State is the only conference team to get the better of Denver this year, and if it weren’t for the draws against fellow tournament teams South Dakota and Omaha, the Jacks would have been regular season champions and the 1 seed in the tournament.  South Dakota State’s match up against Omaha will be interesting, because the last time they competed was early in the season and the game was indoors which is a significantly different playing environment than what Caniglia will offer.  South Dakota State has solid Nebraska ties with 5 players who all contribute at a certain level, and Coach Brock Thompson is a native of Blair, Nebraska.

#3 Omaha

Record: 8-4-4

RPI: 119

Coach: Tim Walters (4th season)

Nebraska Players:

  • Grace Ostergaard (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Millard West / Elite Girls Academy
  • Gracie Parsons (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Burke / Sporting Omaha
  • Grace Crockett (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Marian / Elite Girls Academy
  • Marissa Gohr (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Elkhorn South / K-State / Elite Girls Academy
  • Alyssa Hansen (Freshman) – Lincoln, NE – Pius / Elite Girls Academy
  • Carly Cameron (R-Freshman) – Elkhorn, NE – Elkhorn
  • Maria Eubanks (R-Freshman) – Lincoln, NE – Lincoln East / Elite Girls Academy
  • Grace Thede (R-Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Marian / Sporting Omaha
  • Regan Zimmers (R-Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Millard North / Sporting Omaha
  • Madeline Smith (Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Millard South / Lake Tahoe CC / Gretna SC
  • Laurin Mertz (Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Skutt / Gretna Soccer Club
  • Mali Seran (R-Sophomore) – Omaha, NE – Marian / Sporting Omaha
  • Brylie Meyer (Junior) – Lincoln, NE – Pius / Elite Girls Academy
  • Leah Kirchner (Junior) – Omaha, NE – Millard West / Central MO / Elite Girls Academy

Key Players:

  • Andrea Daves, senior forward from Denver, CO, has tallied 5 goals and 2 assists on the season for a total of 12 points for the Mavericks.  Daves has provided both goals and leadership for this young Maverick team.
  • Margaret Lavigne, junior defender from St. Louis, MO, leads the Mavericks in minutes played and has been an ever present force in the Omaha backline this year.


Omaha was picked eighth in the Summit League preseason poll, and you can go back and see what our preview said about them as well.  The Mavericks have answered the critics and then some, putting together a good regular season together.  The Mavericks badly wanted to make the Summit League tournament, because no one wants to sit out of the tournament, especially as the hosts.  Omaha has achieved that goal, and their next challenge is going to be not settling for just being a part of the tournament.  They went to the final in 2018, and that is definitely possible for them to do again.

#4 University of South Dakota

Record: 9-6-1

RPI: 127

Coach: Michael Thomas (3rd season)

Nebraska Players:

  • Maggie Pallesen (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Marian / Gretna Soccer Club
  • Tatum Lundgren (Freshman) – Omaha, NE – Burke / Gretna Soccer Club
  • Tiannah Moore (Junior) – Lincoln, NE – Lincoln Northeast / Gretna Soccer Club

Key Players:

  • Alexis Mitchell, Senior midfielder from Lee’s Summit, MO, has tallied 7 goals and 4 assists for a total of 18 points.  Mitchell has scored 4 goals and tallied 2 assists in the last 4 games, and she is also the most recent Summit League Player of the Week.
  • Abby Ostrem, Senior defender from Wylie, TX, has played and started in all 16 games for the Coyotes.  Ostrem has also tallied 3 assists, and is part of a USD defense that has only conceded 3 goals in the last 7 games.


After dropping a 4-0 decision on March 19th at South Dakota State, the University of South Dakota Coyotes have gone on a run.  They tied South Dakota State in the next game, and have not dropped a point since.  They sealed their place as the fourth seed with a great run of four games, sweeping both North Dakota and North Dakota State and outsourcing their opponents 15-0.  Coach Michael Thomas has done a great job since taking over at University of South Dakota 3 years ago, and he is hopeful that his squad can continue their run of form as they come up against Denver (where he spent 6 seasons as an assistant coach).


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Mavs, Roos Battle to 0-0 draw in Summit League Play

Despite a couple good opportunities in the second half and overtime, the University of Nebraska Mavericks were left with a single point on the road against the University of Missouri-Kansas City Kangaroos.  UNO forward Sophia Green led the Mavericks in shots, while Rileigh Kuhns registered the only two shots for the Roos.  Both teams’ keepers and their defenses kept shutouts, but it was the Roos’ keeper Mackenzie Caldwell who was the busier of the two.

NEST Quick Hits

  • The first half was fairly even, with a slight tilt to UNO.  UNO Junior Margaret Lavigne was a solid presence in the backline, but she also came away with the best chance of the first half.  Lavigne was denied an almost certain header goal by a brilliant save from Caldwell.
  • The game was physical throughout, but UNO’s Grace Crockett earned the only yellow card.  Crockett’s physicality and hard-tackling was present throughout the game.
  • The UNO Mavericks couldn’t quite put their attack together.  Their attackers all had good moments throughout the game, but not often at the same time.  Regan Zimmers was dangerous in the first half, Green was dangerous in the second half, and Grace Ostergaard popped up late to create some chances.
  • Grace Thede is becoming an important player for the Mavs.  She is a solid outside back, and when the Mavs need help unlocking a tough defense, the coaching staff moves her forward.  She was able to provide a spark for UNO in the second half and overtime, and nearly repeated her heroics from the USD game.
  • UMKC’s Emma Wilson (Westside HS alum) is an absolute force in the midfield for the Roos.  In her youth and club career, she was always a physical presence and a dictator of play, and she still gets it done at the college level.
  • A  point on the road is always good in a conference like the Summit League.  The Mavs probably deserved 3.  Caldwell made 3 incredible saves, and the Roos defense scrambled another one away.  Still, in a tight game like this, UMKC almost snatched victory late, but Bela Gonzalez was unable to force the ball over the line.


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First Half Goals Lift Mavs To Historic Dodge Street Derby Victory

Three first half goals, an opener by junior Ed Port and a brace by junior Hugo Kametani, along with a solid game-long defensive effort helped the University of Omaha Mavericks to a decisive victory over cross-town rival Creighton University.  The game was well-attended safely by supporters from both schools.  Today’s win was the Mavericks’ first ever competitive win over the Jays in four meetings.  This was also the first time the Mavericks shutout the Jays in competitive play.

The Mavericks put the Jays on the back foot right from the opening whistle.  Within 6 minutes, Port, a Reading, England native and Genesee Community College transfer, opened the scoring for the Mavericks after a defensive miscommunication in the backline.  The Mavericks kept the pressure up, and two minutes later scored the prettiest goal of the three.  Senior Nil Ayats threaded a great ball through to Kametani, who finished well for his third goal in three games.  Less than 15 minutes later, Kametani put the game to bed scoring his second goal by finishing a rebound from a Stevie Siy shot.

Save for a couple offside goals called back (one for each team), the second half was fairly sleepy.  Creighton was able to create a couple nice moments of build up, but wasn’t able to find the finishing product.  Callum Watson was active in both halves trying to create chances for the Jays.  The early goals took the edge off the traditional derby feel, but the second half did provide a few hard tackles and a yellow card to Creighton’s Landon Sloan.  The Mavericks move to 1-1, and the Jays fall to 1-1.

Both teams return to their respective conference schedules in what will feel more like a sprint and less like a marathon, as both teams play 8 games over the next 5 weeks.  UNO welcomes Western Illinois to town for a Thursday-Sunday set of games, and Creighton welcomes Xavier to town for a Saturday morning Big East tilt.

Game Notes

Player of the Game – Hugo Kametani.  The junior striker for the Mavericks has scored 4 goals in 3 games for UNO.  It will be hard for him to keep up that strike rate, but even if he slows down a little bit, he is going to be a force up top for Bob Warming’s squad.  He took his chances really well, and has a great work rate as a lead striker.  Hopefully he stays healthy and continues to score goals.

Pulling the Strings – Nil Ayats dished out two assists on the day, and he was fun to watch.  He was moving the ball well and playing some great passes.  I look forward to seeing how the senior from Spain performs the rest of the season.

Running down the Wing – Stevie Siy, a senior from Omaha Central, was active up and down the wing today.  The dynamic right back was present in both the defense and the attack.  For me, he was the best local player on display in today’s derby.

Shorthanded Jays – Creighton University was without Musa Qongo, Dominic Briggs, Cameron Briggs, and former Maverick Diego Gutierrez.

Tactical Thoughts – I thought Coach Bob Warming and the UNO staff got their tactics spot on and the Maverick players executed.  High pressure early in the game paid off, and the personnel choices in the backline kept the Blue Jay attackers mostly at bay.  Ed Gordon off the bench provided necessary work-rate and physicality in the midfield.  I don’t think the Creighton coaching staff necessarily got their tactics wrong, but the team as a whole came out flat, made some silly defensive errors, and didn’t execute on the final ball in the attacking third.


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Gretna Elite Academy and Sporting Omaha FC Join ECNL

Yesterday, it was announced that the two most consistent producers of boys soccer talent in the state of Nebraska will be joining the brand new Heartland Conference of the Boys Elite Clubs National League for the 2021-2022 club season.  Gretna Elite Academy and Sporting Omaha FC will join six other regional clubs in the brand new Heartland Conference.  This is great news for both clubs and the state of Nebraska.

The announcement is also exciting news for the Boys ECNL.  The ECNL, which was originally founded in 2009, is widely considered the top level of girls club soccer in the United States (Gretna Elite Academy’s girls sides also compete in the ECNL), however in recent years they have been expanding their reach and growing their platform on the boys’ side as well.  With the creation of the Heartland Conference, the ECNL adds seven new clubs (FC Wichita, KC Scott Gallagher, Sporting Iowa, SL Scott Gallagher (MO), and Vision Soccer Academy will join the Omaha clubs in the ECNL) and will shift SL Scott Gallagher (IL) from the Midwest Conference into the Heartland Conference.

“Gretna Elite Academy and Sporting Omaha joining ECNL is long awaited big news for boys soccer and finally gives the boys game a positive future for the top kids in the area,” said Gretna Elite Academy Boys Director Chris Dunford.

While the Omaha area has certainly produced it’s fair share of talented players on the boys side, there has been a relatively low ceiling of competition and national exposure available to the teams and players from the area.  The move to Boys ECNL gives both clubs and their players an increased level of competition, the opportunity for more national exposure, while also allowing them to consistently compete against some of the top clubs in-region.

Both Sporting Omaha FC and Gretna Elite Academy have worked together on the boys side in recent years to increase the exposure for their teams and players (including coordinating their college ID camps), and this is just another big step in a positive direction for the future of boys soccer in Omaha and in Nebraska as a whole.  Nebraska Soccer Talk is looking forward to watching both clubs and their players compete in the Boys ECNL in the coming season.  To read more about the Boys ECNL and the brand new Heartland Conference visit the Boys ECNL Website.


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