OMAHA — One of the dream matchups right now in high school soccer in Nebraska is Creighton Prep vs. Omaha South, and it’s coming again on Monday on the biggest stage in the state championship match.
Class A second-ranked Omaha South and No. 3 Creighton Prep advanced with convincing wins on Friday in the state semifinals at Morrison Stadium.
Creighton Prep beat Papillion-La Vista 3-0, and Omaha South was relentless around the goal in a 4-0 win against Gretna. Luka Nedic, who transferred from Lincoln North Star to Omaha South, led the Packers with two goals.
It’s Creighton Prep and Omaha South who have helped elevate the profile of the sport over the last 10 years.
In soccer, these schools make the perfect storm for a memorable championship match. Each school is located pretty close to the spectacular downtown Omaha stadium where the tournament is held, and each school has many proud alums living in Omaha.
It started in 2013, the first time Prep and Omaha South played in the finals. There was a record crowd of 8,200 that night. Tournament officials had to keep opening up new areas to sit on the berm behind the goal. Omaha South won that night 1-0 for its first state championship.
Prep and South also played in the championship match in 2016, with South winning again 1-0 before a crowd of 6,567.
You’ll never forget coaching in Prep-South state championship match, Prep coach Tom Hoover said.
“It’s just the crowds, and a festival atmosphere,” Hoover said.
Omaha South is 2-0 against Creighton Prep in championship matches. But it was after that 2016 title match that Hoover says provided one of his most memorable moments as a coach.
After getting the trophy, Omaha South was taking a photo at the center of the field. As Hoover remembers it, one of the South players called out for the Prep players to join them. What followed is a photo with both teams together, two trophies sitting on the turf and Prep players mixed among ones from Omaha South.
— Nick Rubek (@nickrubekOWH) May 18, 2016
“I was kind of in awe about it,” Hoover said. "Our guys were hurting, but the picture I have is one of my favorite, most cherished memories. Just to see that, it really created some good-will. Not that we were saving anybody, or doing anything out of the ordinary, but it was a tough time with the political climate at the time with the build the wall chants. That will probably be one of my most treasured moments.”
It’s only been in the last 15 years that Omaha South got really good. The first time Omaha South ever made it to state in 2008, their first match was against Prep.
Now in nine of the Packers’ 11 state appearances they’ll have played a match against Prep.
“The competition is fierce, but never chippy,” said Hoover of the matchup. “It’s just so high-quality. They’re just so good, and we can hang with them for the most part. It’s so much fun."
On Friday, Prep took a 1-0 lead just 8:35 into the match. Senior Luke Waters scored on a laser of a shot from about 25 yards.
“Luke just lined that up,” said Prep senior Michael Ambrose. “That was one of the better goals I’ve seen in my high school career. He crushed that ball.”
The Junior Jays added two more goals in the second half. First, Matt Anderson finished off a crossing pass right in front of the goal. The final goal was another great one, with Ambrose scoring on a bicycle kick in front of the goal with 11 minutes left in the match.