GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - A year ago the Northwest boys soccer team made it to state for the first time since 2011. Finishing with an 11-4 record.
Northwest breaks down their huddle during halftime of their 2019 district final game against Norris.
This year they were planning on doing the same.
Ann purdy - co-coach - northwest boys soccer / dan purdy - co-coach - northwest boys soccer
"By the end of the summer the kids were like, 'oh we're gonna have a good team,'" said Northwest co-coach Ann Purdy.
They returned several impact players to go along with two very good foreign exchange students, but their overall numbers were low.
Grand Island Central Catholic had also dealt with low numbers the past few seasons. The Crusaders have not been able to field more than 17 total kids, and many years hovered around 14. Last year they finished 2-10 overall.
Coaches from both teams began to talk about forming a co-op together, and that's exactly what happened, starting this year.
"Joining a co-op with northwest, we're blessed to have a varsity and a jv team," said former GICC head coach and now assistant Northwest coach John Kenna. "So we can develop some of these younger kids."
On paper it seems like an easy transition, but it definitely took some time to get used to.
"You're gelling the coaching staff and their philosophies, and then you're having to take two local schools have always competed against each other and are rivals," said Kenna.
They began playing together last May, giving them plenty of time before this season to work out all of the kinks. Priming the Vikings to make a strong push at a state title this year.
"I can't believe how they came and just bought into it, and conditioned, and were ready to go for the season," said Northwest co-coach Dan Purdy. "I mean there were some boys that just shined from GICC."
But their seniors and the rest of the team didn't get a chance to take the field.
"We had seven seniors that don't get a chance to compete," said Kenna.
"It hurt a lot, ya know? Because we had such big expectations for the year," said Northwest junior Parker Janky, who led the Vikings with 15 goals a year ago. "All the stuff we did in the weight room, the open fields, all of the agility training, just all of that. It was gonna put us in a tremendous position to be successful at the highest level."
Road to Omaha was the slogan for the vikings last year. This year's slogan?
"We're return to Omaha this year, so it's still RTO," said Janky.
Return to Omaha will have to wait another year, but the plan hasn't changed one bit.
"It's definitely gonna be the same mission to get the state title and make some noise down in Omaha."