Welcome to Episode 30 of the Prep Extra Podcast presented by The Lincoln Journal Star.
OMAHA – A high school soccer goalkeeper could play four years and still not record as many saves on penalty kicks as Waverly’s Ian Morehead has this spring.
“It’s over 10 (saves) for sure,” Waverly coach Mike Ziola said.
On a penalty kick, the shooter has a clear advantage – except maybe against Morehead.
Waverly’s season is marching on after another shootout win, this time in the first round of the Class B boys state tournament Thursday at Morrison Stadium.
The fourth-ranked Vikings beat No. 5 Scottsbluff 5-4. Waverly won the shootout 3-0.
Waverly has won three of its four shootout matches this season, and they’ve all been significant. The Vikings also won shootout matches in the conference championship (three saves for Morehead) and the district final (two saves).
On Thursday, Morehead made saves on two of the Bearcats’ three attempts, and the other one missed the goal.
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“He’s one of the best, if not the best goalies in the state,” Waverly senior Landon Tjaden said. “We’ve gone to so many shootouts and he’s given us some big, big moments. We just love him to death. ”
During the shootout, there were hundreds of Waverly students standing right above the goal. Tjaden clinched the shootout in the fourth round. The Scottsbluff goalie got his hand on the ball, but it still sailed into the goal.
Waverly is on to the state soccer semifinals for the first time in 21 years. The Vikings will play No. 2 Omaha Skutt at 5:30 pm Saturday at Morrison Stadium.
“It’s too late to think about. It’s been 20 years since Waverly has been in the semifinals, ”Tjaden said.
There have been a lot of things for Waverly this season that haven’t happened in a while. Waverly won the conference title for the first time since 2008 and made state for the first time since 2010.
“Here’s the deal, we got a group of kids who work their tails off, they’re willing to learn,” Ziola said. We’re not much greater than the bottom (teams), but we can play ourselves up to the top, and that’s what all of these close games are. And now these kids can believe they can win and that’s a pretty powerful thing when you start believing that you can win every game. ”
And it comes in the final season before Ziola leaves to be an assistant principal in his hometown of Columbus.
This week was extra special for Ziola. His wife, Kaitlyn, had their first child on Tuesday. She’s still in the hospital, and Ziola still has his hospital bracelet on his wrist.
“I haven’t slept much, and I missed my first practice of the year on Tuesday,” Ziola said.
Early in the first half Waverly scored two goals in a stretch of just 50 seconds. Carson Brentlinger opened the scoring by fighting off two defenders and lofting a shot into the top of the goal. Then Kemper Reed made it 2-0 when he scored on a close shot.
Then it was the Bearcats’ turn for back-to-back scores. Karim CastilloLeos scored first, and then Aaron Schaff made it 2-2 just before halftime.
The rapid scoring continued early in the second half. Braden Anderson scored on a long shot to put Scottsbluff up 3-2. But just 20 seconds later Waverly answered when Tjaden scored on a rebound shot to tie the match 3-3.
Waverly took a 4-3 lead on a goal by Anthony Ruelas with 27 minutes left in the second half. He took a pass from Jonny Martin across the front of the goal and finished on the open side of the net.
Five minutes later, Scottsbluff tied the match 4-4 when Schaff scored his second goal of the match.
Fatigue set in quickly during the match, which was played in the afternoon when the heat index was 100 degrees.
“I’ll remember how hot it was,” Tjaden said. “But we went out and played with so much heart and grit and we were just so mentally tough.”
Ziola said the heat was probably a factor in the eight combined goals.
“Honestly at times it reminded me of a summer league soccer game where kids just couldn’t move,” Ziola said. “I’m looking at our kids who I know give me their all and it looks like they got lead for legs at times. And then after that flurry of goals nothing happened because I don’t think anybody had anything left in the tank. ”
Reach the writer at 402-473-7435 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @LJSSportsWagner.