Gretna earned their third straight trip to the girls Metro Tournament Championship game with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Millard North on Saturday.
The Dragons jumped ahead early on a Defini connection as London crossed to Sonora from a corner, the latter heading the ball into the back of the net with a slight deflection.
This season, the Gretna sophomore has made a move back to her regular forward position after stepping up at center back last year, and has racked up seven goals to rank second behind reigning Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year Allison Marshall.
“It is definitely my primary position,” Defini said. “It’s really fun to play up there with all those girls and score a lot of goals, and I feel like we just work really well together. I just think we just like we flow well together and we’re always running together and having good balls to each other and talking.”
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Ten minutes later, Karli Williams hit a peach of a volley that rocketed into the back of the net.
“The things that they can do with the ball in terms of distribution are unbelievable, both London and Karli,” head coach Chace Hutchison said. “They put the perfect pace on it, they always get it where their teammates are and they give our team a chance (to score).”
The Dragons maintained the lead into halftime, and never allowed the Mustangs to string more than a couple of passes together before winning the ball back. That lines up perfectly with Hutchison’s two defensive rules: to play defense simply by keeping the ball in their possession and avoid turnovers in vulnerable areas, and if lost, to win the ball back within five seconds.
“And so we try to execute that, and when you put pressure on their defenders and put pressure on their midfielders that really close down passing lanes because they have to react really quick. And then our backline and our goalkeeper’s very talented.”
That backline, made up of a rotating cast of players but anchored by captain Anna Harris and fellow senior Aidan Pohlmann, is “constantly structured” and communicating with sophomore goalkeeper Maddie Schaffert, and is a perfect eight-for-eight in keeping clean sheets (Gretna has a 33-0 goal difference).
“Our goalkeeper, Madeline, she doesn’t get a lot of saves,” Hutchison said. “That’s not on the stat sheet. But she does so much for us to prevent shots, and we’ll take a goalie that prevents shots over a goalie that’s a shot stopper because if they don’t even get a chance, we’ll take that.”
In the second half, goals from Addison Larock, Madelyn ‘Red’ White and Izzie Franks put the game away in dominant fashion as the Dragons advance to a rematch of last year’s Metro final against Omaha Marian.
“Just like us, they’re starting to come into form,” Hutchison said. “So it’s gonna be a big challenge for us. It’s gonna be an exciting game. It’s a rivalry game. The players feel it, the coaches feel it, the bands feel it.”
Gretna won 2-0 last year and 3-0 earlier this season at home against the Crusaders.
Kickoff is from 5 p.m. at Collin Stadium in south Omaha.