OMAHA — During a high school soccer season when there’s been a lot of discussion about club soccer players who aren’t playing for their high school team this year, it was a player who doesn’t play club soccer at all who had a major part in helping Millard West make it to the state championship match.
Millard West senior Chaise Pfanstiel scored two goals to lead top-ranked Millard West to a 2-1 overtime win against No. 5 Lincoln East in the Class A girls state semifinals on Saturday at Morrison Stadium.
Millard West (17-1) held off a tough challenge from the Spartans, and will play Omaha Marian in the championship Tuesday.
Millard West got the winning goal 6 minutes, 25 seconds into the 20-minute overtime. Pfanstiel got to a ball sent from the left wing to the area right in front of the goal, spun around and scored from about 4 yards out.
“Maddie Lecuona, she swung it in and I just happened to be in the right spot and got on the end of it,” Pfanstiel said.
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That was her second goal of the match, third of the tournament and 19th of the season.
The debate about club soccer stems from one Omaha club joining a nationwide development academy league that keeps playing matches in the spring so its players aren’t able to play high school soccer.
That wasn’t a problem for Pfanstiel because she no longer plays club soccer. Basketball is her No. 1 sport -- she’ll play that sport in college at Northwest Missouri State.
Millard West coach Jacque Tevis-Butler says Pfanstiel is a physical player to defend.
“That’s a bowling ball coming at you,” Tevis-Butler said. “She doesn’t play club soccer anymore, and hasn’t I think since eighth grade. She comes out and plays because she still loves it and she’s just a bruiser. She’s hard to stop.”
Pfanstiel also scored just 3:35 into the match after making a run up the right side. She almost tripped on that play.
East (14-3) got the tying goal about eight minutes later, scored by Delaney Roberts. It came on a perfect free kick from about 30 yards left of the goal into the top of the net.
Millard West led in shots on goal 8-3, but East made it very tough for a team that had won its first match at state 8-1 against Omaha Westside.
“(East was) physical, and they connected passes, when other teams that we’ve been playing just try to boot it up and chase it down, and we were able to bring it down and possess,” Pfanstiel said. “Lincoln East was really good at bringing the ball down and possessing around us, and that was the first time we’ve really seen that all season.”
East coach Chuck Morgan said the Spartans played a great match.
“We pushed them to the limit,” Morgan said. “I just liked the way we kept fighting and fighting. They scored in the first five minutes, and we came back and it was a pretty evenly fought match all day long. The referee let everything go, and it was good. I don’t think people thought we were going to hang in there that long, after what they did to Westside.”
Morgan thought this might be a rebuilding year for East after losing a big senior class, but instead the Spartans made it all the way to the state semifinals for the first time in 12 years.
For next season, East will only have to replace four seniors.
“This sophomore class is a phenomenal class, and they’re going to go far,” Morgan said. “I think these girls will be back at state next year.”