The North Platte High School boys' soccer team began the defense of its Greater Nebraska Athletic Conference championship on Friday with a 1-0 win over Scottsbluff in the first round of the conference tournament at Bauer Field."It became what is pretty typical of our games with Scottsbluff," NPHS coach Danny Whitney said. "They're organized and committed to their gameplan. We just created enough opportunities to get the one we needed."
The one the Bulldogs (5-1) needed came with 10 minutes left in the first half when Ryan LeTourneau made a run toward the goal and crossed to his left to Malik Lillard. Lillard was stopped by Bearcat goalie Brady Sindt. But in the scramble for the loose ball, Miles Sweeney knocked it in.
"That was kind of what we needed to do because Scottsbluff was very quick to shift to the ball," Whitney said. "Miles was right there in the right place."
North Platte held on from there but it wasn't easy. Scottsbluff (2-6) kept making more pushes toward the end of the game. The Bearcats' best chance came with four minutes left when T.J. Albright shot from about 15 yards. But Bulldog goalie Will Phillips jumped and knocked the ball over the net.
"They were quick to put pressure on us and we were able to be in position," Whitney said.
NPHS will play Columbus at 12 p.m. on Saturday in the semifinals at Bauer Field in the first of two games on the day to finish the tournament.
Lady Dawgs move past Gering
The North Platte girls defeated Gering 3-0 in their first round game on Friday at Bauer Field.
"The girls worked hard," NPHS coach Sarah Kaminski said. "We would have liked to have more in the back of the net and the girls were frustrated by that but we dominated possession and we had the ball at our end all game long."
After being turned away on several opportunities, the Lady Dawgs (5-1) finally scored in the 24th minute with a goal by Abbie Hedgecock.
After halftime, the Dawgs went up 2-0 after Skylar Fisher received Hedgecock's corner kick from the right side and passed it to Kyilee Elsten for the goal in the ninth minute of the second half.
With five minutes left, Sami Mauch scored on a breakaway to add another goal for good measure.
"At halftime, we talked about how we needed to make sure we're more reactive," Kaminski said. "Our offense needs to move into the ball as it changes position on the field and it felt like we were a step behind a lot. We need to bring a little more anticipation."
North Platte will play Norfolk in the semifinals on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Bauer Field.