Spartans erupt for 6 goals in 6-4 victory over Papio South Titans in state quarterfinals


Photo by Francis Gardler, Lincoln Journal Star

Thanks to Haley Peterson (center) and others, the Spartans prevailed over the Titans 6-4 in a high scoring affair.

For 39 minutes, the crowd at Morrison Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska was restless as the 3rd seeded Lincoln East Spartans and 6th seeded Papillion LaVista South Titans were scoreless in the Class A girls soccer state quarterfinals. For the next 41 minutes though, the nets at Morrison were on fire.
The Titans scored their first goal off of a corner kick that bounced off an East defender’s head and into the goal but East senior Haley Peterson responded 23 seconds later after she maneuvered through the defense and somehow found the bottom left corner of the net. After the first goal by Napora, Peterson said, “I knew we had to get a quick goal to get our momentum back before half time. I positioned myself behind the defense and put myself in a 1 v 1 situation,” Peterson said. She was able to finish and the score was knotted at 1 a piece headed into halftime. But the scoring explosion for both teams was just getting started.
Three minutes into the second half, East sophomore Kayma Carpenter sliced through the defense to give the Spartans a 2-1 advantage. But Papio South senior Allie Napora, who was playing with a cast on her broken arm, scored two goals within 94 seconds of each other, after outhustling the Spartan defense to a ball and also finding some space in the goalkeeper’s box. But Carpenter answered back three minutes later for her team leading 31st goal of the season to even the score at three. Next, Peterson got in on the action again and scored her second goal of the game on a freekick from 20 or so yards out. It bounced off the crossbar, off the Titan goalie, and into the goal. Senior Briley Hill added another goal and so did Tula Waite and the Spartans prevailed 6-4 to advance to the state semifinals.
The scoring explosion that occurred specifically in the second half is very extraordinary for a state playoff game as typically the competition is very stiff as the 8 best teams in the state battle. “Usually in the state tournament only a few goals are scored each game,” Peterson said. “I think that both teams played really well offensively and it led to lots of goals.”
The Spartans have scored 6 goals in each of their post season games and the 6 goal outburst at state tied the Spartans state single game record. But the 4 goals that East allowed against Papio South were the most allowed all season by the Spartans. “Papio South was a tough opponent, they got in good positions to score and finished the chances they had,” Peterson said. “I think we did a good job of responding and scoring when we got scored on. I think that we stayed calm and never gave up on each other which helped us win the game.”
The Spartans’ next opponent, the Gretna Dragons, are coming off a 4-1 victory over the Kearney Bearcats in their quarterfinal matchup. The Dragons are led by senior Nebraska soccer commit Sarah Weber who scored 3 goals against the Bearcats and set the Class A single season goals record this season with her 47th vs the Bearcats. There will be a wealth of talent on the field for the May 15th matchup at 10 in the morning this Saturday as there will be three Nebraska commits on the pitch, Weber, Peterson, and Hill are all a part of the 2021 Nebraska soccer recruiting class and are just a part of the wealth of talent for both teams.
For Peterson, this game will come down to a couple of things for the Spartans to have success. “We just need to play our game, possession,” Peterson said. “We need to bring our own energy to the game with high press and quick transitions. It will be really important to score the opportunities we have, which we are really good at.” If the Spartans are able to score like they did against the Titans, they will be a difficult team to keep up with. With a win on Saturday, East would punch their ticket to the state championship game on Tuesday, May 18th in the hunt for the program’s 3rd title and first since 2005.