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Nebraska high school girls soccer Top 25 rankings (3/20/2024)

Dragons lead list looking for four-peat

There’s some expectation that Gretna is vulnerable at the top of Class A now that Gretna East has opened and the talent pool has been split. If that’s the case in Class A, Gretna East might be the favorite in Class B. Either way, both Gretna in A and Skutt in B are reigning three-time champions. 

1. Gretna (Class A State Champion)

There is speculation that Gretna simply can’t be that good again. The opening of Gretna East will convert a few Dragons to Griffins, and both programs will now be recruiting from the same talent pool. However, Gretna didn’t win three state titles in a row, make 22 trips to state and play in the title match 11 times simply by having better players. Talent is part of it, but so too is coaching an culture. Those last two elements are still in place, and until someone proves otherwise, Gretna still looks like the team to beat.

2. Lincoln Southwest (Class A State Runner-Up)

After 14 trips to state, Southwest finally broke through last spring with its first run to the title match. The Silver Hawks were turned away 5-2 by Gretna after allowing four first-half goals to the Dragons. Outside of that one performance, Southwest was dominant defensive team that had given up just five goals in the previous 18 matches. The top four in points scored and four of the five that had double-digit points are back again. Southwest will be working in a new starter in net after Alexa Gobel put together 10 shutouts.

3. Omaha Westside (Class A State Semifinals)

The Warriors are a perennial participant at the state tournament but until last year had gone quite a while without a win at Morrison Stadium. Last spring made it 27 times at state. A first-round win over Marian snapped an eight-match losing streak in the quarterfinals and earned Westside its first win since 2010. Only two goals came from a senior last season. Thirteen different players found the back of the net and 18 had at least one assist for one of the most complementary offenses in the state.

4. Skutt Catholic (Class B State Champ)

Let’s stay away from the term ‘rebuild’ because that doesn’t apply at a place like Skutt. Yes, the Skyhawks graduated eight seniors but the 2021 team graduated 13, including the top three scorers, and won another championship in 2022. The 2022 group said goodbye to six seniors and raised a third straight trophy in 2023. Skutt still has four players that scored five or more goals. A new face will take over in net.

5. Norris (Class B Runner-Up)

Been to the finals the last three years and suffered losses to Skutt each time. The first two were both one-goal games; last year was a shootout defeat. Only one regular member of the starting lineup graduated. Returning are 26 goals from Kennedy Sullivan, 17 assists by Grace Kohler and a .291 GAA from goalkeeper Izzie Tidball.

6. Gretna East (Inaugural Season)

Yes, it’s the first year for the Griffins but Gretna East features a lineup that is made up, at least partially, by players who experienced one, two or all three of the Dragons consecutive titles the last three years. The most noteworthy of those names is junior Sonora DeFini, an Oklahoma State recruit, and former Gretna keeper Maddie Schaffert.

7. Omaha Marian (Class A State Tournament)

Marian has been to the state tournament a record 30 times and played in the final match in two-thirds of those. However, the Crusaders are approaching a seven-year drought of not making the championship match, a length of time that would match the longest such drought in school history. Paige Miller had quite the rookie campaign, leading Marian with 13 goals and nine assists. Three of the next four leading point-scorers were seniors. Hayden Blaney, another freshman last year, posted 13 shutouts in 19 games and made 46 total saves.

8. Lincoln East (Class A State Semifinals)

East was in the semifinals for the second time in three seasons last May and again suffered another brutal loss. In 2021 it was a shutout to Gretna that halted hopes of playing for a title. A year ago, East went into overtime with Southwest tied 1-1 when a free kick from the Silver Hawks deflected off the wall and crept over the goal line before the keeper could arrive. The Spartans graduated 68% of their goal scorers as well as the starting goalkeeper.

9. Lincoln Pius X (Class A State Tournament)

Pius played eventual state runner-up Southwest to a first-round state tournament shootout in 2023, losing when Bree Korta’s fourth-round try was saved by Silver Hawk keeper Alexa Gobel. It was one of three matchups between Pius and Southwest last year. The Silver Hawks took all three, but Pius came closer each time. The Thunderbolts were 11-6 and four of those six losses were either by one goal or in a shootout.

10. Millard West (Class A State Tournament)

The Wildcats fell into a 2-0 hole early in the first round of last year’s state tournament but fought back and tied it just before halftime. A deflected shot landed at the feet of an East player and produced the game-winner early in the second overtime period. Millard West had eight players that appeared in all 16 matches last season. The Wildcats return five of those as well as the starting keeper.

11. Elkhorn South (Class A District Final)

Elkhorn South missed state for the second time in three years in 2023. That’s not much to complain about, but the Storm had been to nine state tournaments in a row before missing out in 2021 and 2023. Elkhorn South was a mix of seniors and freshmen at the top of the scoring charts, leaving enough members behind to pick up the mantle and get back to Morrison Stadium.

12. Papillion-La Vista (Class A State Tournament)

Papio put together an 11-6 season and made its 11th state tournament in school history last year. But once at Morrison Stadium, the Monarchs couldn’t contain Gretna’s multiple offense, allowed six total goals and trailed 5-0 at halftime. Even though Papio has been to state more than 10 times, the Monarchs haven’t scored a goal in the tournament since 1994. Emma Wasilewski is back after leading the team with 20 points on eight goals and four assists as a freshman. She’ll need to find more options on offense after the graduation of 12 seniors who accounted for 19 of the 35 goals and 11 of the 31 assists.

13. Columbus (Class A District Final)

The Discoverers have pretty much been to the district final every year since last qualifying for state in 2018. Since the pandemic canceled 2020, Columbus has suffered district final losses by shootout, 1-0 and 3-0. Westside ended state hopes last year 3-0 when junior Sydney Hagen, who had one goal in the previous 16 matches, scored a hat trick against the Discoverers. The top two scorers and five of the top six were underclassmen.

14. Grand Island Northwest (Class B District Finals)

Northwest went perfect through the regular season and nearly perfect through the postseason until Gross denied the Vikings their second consecutive trip to Omaha in a 1-0 district final loss. Since the district final format was updated, a No. 1 seed had never lost to a No. 16 until Northwest became the first victim to a Cinderella. The loss was just the second time all year the Vikings had allowed a goal. Junior Lupe Sanchez led the state with 34 goals.

15. Duchesne Academy (Class B Semifinals)

Last year’s No. 1 seed for the state tournament was turned away by Norris in a semifinal that came down to PKs. June Mullen’s 11 goals and six assists plus Claire Quattrocchi’s eight goals and three assists pace a Cardinal squad that has been to state each of the past three years and played in two of the last three semifinals.

16. Bellevue West (Class A District Finals)

Bell West collected 11 wins last season but only one of those was against a team above .500. However, that one opponent was Skutt. Going 1-5 against quality opponents probably says more than one particular result, but it was a win that revealed a bit of potential. The T-Birds will try and realize more of that potential this year but without Madison Severn and her 20 goals. Mia McVay likely steps into that role as a senior coming off a season with 14 goals and 14 assists.

17. Millard North (Class A District Finals)

The Mustangs played most of last year on a razor’s edge. During a 9-7 season, Millard North won six one-goal games and one shootout while losing four other one-goal contests. While that shows close games tend to even out, it also shows how close the Mustangs were to having a few more wins or a lot more losses. Only one senior had multiple goals, and only two had more than one point on the 2023 roster.

18. Millard South (Class A District Final)

The Patriots fell into a 1-3 hole in the early part of last year’s schedule but kept fighting and found their way over .500 mark midway through April. A 1-0 district semifinal win over Central kept the season alive, but Marian was too much in a 6-1district final defeat. The starting goalkeeper and most of the lineup are back.

19. Lincoln Southeast (Class A District Finals)

It was a bit of feast or famine last year for the Knights. Southeast had two three-game losing skids and a five-game winning streak. Five consecutive wins earned Southeast a district final against East. The Knights led 1-0 but surrendered two second-half goals and missed out on state. Southeast only scored 18 goals in 16 matches.

20. Elkhorn North (Class B State Tournament)

The Wolves went 7-11 in their inaugural season then have made each of the past two state tournaments. Skutt stood in the way both times. Kailey Marshall and Ava Spies, who both had more than 10 goals, are back in the lineup again. Elkhorn North has another tough schedule that includes Duchesne, Scotus, Bennington and Norris.

21. Bennington (Class B State Tournament)

The Bears have been on the rise recently, qualifying for three state tournaments since 2019. The program had none prior to the 2019 squad that went 19-4. The Badgers have been in each of the past two state tournaments, suffering elimination both times at the hands of Norris – last year in a shootout. Bennington lost just seven goals to graduating seniors from that squad.

22. Omaha Mercy (Class B Semifinals)

Mercy trailed Scotus 1-0 in the first round of last year’s state tournament, fought back and earned a double-overtime win. Skutt was too much in a 4-0 semifinal setback. Rylee Rempe had 12 goals and two assists as a senior. Goalkeeper Zoey Sizemore played all but 20 minutes in net for the Monarchs. Finding her replacement is likely the chief concern.

23. Roncalli Catholic (Class B District Finals)

The Crimson Pride were 9-7 last season and all seven of those losses were to state tournament teams – Skutt, Duchesne and Bennington each beat Roncalli twice. Morgan Mancuso had 24 goals and eight assists. Megan Pritza was 9-3 in net with four shootouts and just 15 goals against in 928 minutes between the posts.

24. Kearney (Class A District Semifinals)

The Bearcats fell off late last year, losing their final four matches while managing just one goal. There weren’t any dynamic scorers on the 2023 roster, but there were a lot of players who contributed with a goal or an assist. Three of the five who had double-digit points are still on the roster. Eight others who had at least one point are also still with the program.

25. Gross Catholic (Class B State Tournament)

The Cougars shocked the Nebraska soccer world last May when they went to Grand Island and upset Northwest in the district final. The Vikings came into that one at or near the top in the Class B ratings and had only surrendered a goal all year when junior Lauren Stuhr scored game-winner in the 16th minute. Stuhr plus four other juniors and a sophomore accounted for all of last year’s goals. Also back is keeper Mayse Fritz who made 77 saves and posted three shutouts.

--Nathan Charles | @SBLiveNeb