Westside Boys Soccer Finishes Season Strong in Preparation for Districts


Westside boys soccer celebrates after a Tristan Alvaro goal in their blowout win over Bellevue East

The Westside boys varsity soccer team finished their regular season ranked No. 4 in Class A with a record of 11-4. The Warriors will begin their postseason play with the A-6 District Semifinal match against Omaha Benson.

After an early heartbreaker in the Metro Conference Tournament, the Warriors took the field against Omaha North and dominated the game. They followed up their 7-0 victory against the Vikings with a win in overtime against the Omaha South Packers. Then, Westside faced the No. 1 Gretna Dragons. Only one goal was put up on the board in the first half, in favor of Gretna. After halftime, Westside managed to score but the Dragons found the net twice, chalking the game up for the Warriors as a 3-1 loss to the No. 1 team in the state.

As the end of the season drew closer, the Warriors celebrated their seven seniors in their final home game of the regular season. Only two seniors, Jake Garcia and Adam Hjemvick, have committed to continuing their soccer career in college. Garcia, who will play at Nebraska Wesleyan next year, identified a few things he’ll miss about Westside soccer.

“I’m going to miss the unity and the sense of community, not even just within the soccer program but with the other sports and staff in the building,” Garcia said. “Knowing that everyone supports us and has our backs is definitely something I’m going to miss. I’m also going to miss the team; I’ve played with a few of these guys for three years now and to not be able to play with them anymore sucks.”

After celebrating their seniors with an 8-0 victory over the Bellevue West Thunderbirds, the Warriors prepared to face long-term rival and No. 2 in the state Creighton Prep. The game was a part of the annual Kicks for a Cure fundraiser. Kicks for a Cure (KFAC) was started in 2004 with just women’s college soccer teams, but progressed throughout the years to include men’s college teams and boy’s and girl’s high school teams. The event this year took place on April 23, with both Westside varsity teams playing at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Those games were followed by a Creighton soccer double header. 

This was Westside’s second year participating in KFAC, but the athletes’ focus was more on the competitive nature of the game. Going into the game, the Warriors prepared for an intense rivalry matchup that could have a serious impact on their season.

“We try not to look at power points too much but that was a game that really would have helped us out in terms of seeding,” said junior Tristan Alvano. “We look at every game as a ‘must-win’ game but that game specifically would have helped us out for the postseason. We really just wanted to come out strong with a good performance; we lost to Gretna earlier that week so we wanted to bounce back and get on track against a really good team.”

All KFAC games took place at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium, which is the biggest soccer stadium in the state. It’s also where the NSAA Class A State Tournament will take place next week.

“We wanted to soak up the atmosphere of the competition,” Westside head coach Mike Dean said. “We were excited to play at Morrison because the state tournament is down there. Getting to play down there before the tournament and play a state quality team like Prep was a great test for us.”

After watching the Warrior girls beat Papillion La-Vista, the boys kicked off their match against the Jr. Jays. Despite their preparation, Westside had a slow start and Prep managed to put one on the board within the first ten minutes of the game. By halftime, Prep was up 2-0 and the Warriors were in need of a goal.

“We felt like the first ten minutes, we came out really sluggish and slow and probably gave them too much respect,” Dean said. “After their second goal, I felt like the tide slowly turned, so at halftime we focused on playing for the full 80 minutes and we expressed to them that we’re good enough to beat Prep even though we were down two to nothing. It seemed like the talk went well because we scored in the first four minutes of the second half and really gave them our all at the end.”

After the Warriors finally managed to score, both teams battled to keep possession of  the ball and make something happen. After 80 minutes, the Warriors fell to Prep in a 2-1 loss. In two games, the Westside soccer program raised $5,340 for KFAC. The proceeds of all four KFAC games were put towards local cancer research at the Creighton University Hereditary Cancer Center and the Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center.

Even with a tough loss to a rival team, the Warriors managed to stay in good spirits. They’d played two top-ten teams in the span of a week and the Warriors felt more confident than ever that they could compete within the top of the state.

“Now we know we can beat them,” said Dean. “They’re beatable, and we can beat anyone. In the last week, we’ve played Prep and Gretna which are perceived as the No. 2 and No. 1 teams in the state. I feel like after those two games, the attitude among the players was more stunned that we didn’t win the games. I think we came out with positivity because we can play with them but we’re ambitious and we want to win everything. We’re trying to take as many positives out of that game as we can and use some of the negatives as motivation.”

The Warriors ended their regular season with a win against Omaha Central and immediately shifted focus towards districts. Westside’s had a great season with a winning record and wins over top teams like Omaha South, Bryan, Papillion La-Vista and Millard South; now is the time for the Warriors to play at their highest level.

“We’re really working on some of the basic things: trying to improve how we play and improve our connection to each other,” Alvano said. “We’ve worked on that stuff all season but this is the time to peak. We don’t want to peak at metros, we don’t want to peak in game two, we want to peak in districts and state. We’re working on our chemistry, trying to clean up some of the things we’ve noticed in film and we really want to be as perfect as we can.”

On Wednesday, Apr. 27, it was announced that Westside was the No. 1 seed in the A-6 District Tournament. The Warriors will host Benson on Monday, May 2. A win in that game would advance Westside to the A-6 District final and an opportunity for the Warriors to punch their ticket to the NSAA Class A State Tournament for the first time since 2018.