KEARNEY — The Kearney High soccer players met all of their coach’s desires Tuesday night.
In doing so, the Bearcats routed Bellevue East 8-0 in the first game of the A-2 District Tournament.
“I wanted to preferably see us score some goals in the first half, which we did,” coach Scott Steinbrook said. “I wanted to get some guys that are a little dinged up right now some rest, which we did. And at the end of the day, I wanted them to be moving on and practicing and getting ready for a game on Thursday, which we did.
“If I could have scripted this one, this is about how we would have wanted it to go.”
AJ Faz scored two goals in the game’s first 18 minutes.
Elliott Lebsack had a hat trick in the first 30 minutes.
Royce Austen had a goal and two assists, which gives him a clean sweep of the scoring records. He now has 12 assists to break the school record set by Josh Gable in 2009.
And Jacob Hardy, who only had to make two saves, tied the school record of 13 shutouts in a season set by Lance Johnson, also in 2009.
Second-half goals came from Carson Elstermeier and Tyler Hepner. It was the first goal of the season for Hepner.
Bellevue East came out with a lot of fight and fire “like everybody does, like every team we’ve played all year does. When you get a chance to play Kearney, it means something,” Steinbrook said. “The first goal you could see their heads go down a little bit. That second and third goal came so quickly you could see the wind taken out of their sails.”
The draw for the district tournaments put Kearney as the No. 2 seed and Bellevue East at No. 27. The discrepancy showed throughout the game.
Thursday will be different.
Millard West (8-8) advanced to the district final scoring a goal with one second left in the game to beat Elkhorn South Tuesday night. Millard West is a team that mystifies Steinbrook.
“Millard West is the team we beat in the district final last year and they only had one senior on that team … so this is the identical team they brought out here a year ago that had us down at halftime,” he said.
The Wildcats have won four in a row, including victories over Omaha Central and Creighton Prep who have double-digit victories.
“The level of competition will obviously be up on Thursday night,” Steinbrook said.