This year’s state soccer tournament may require name tags.
More than half of the teams in the four brackets, which were released Saturday afternoon, weren’t in that tourney class a year ago.
Take out the boys and girls teams for Gretna and North Platte — which were in the state tournament but in a different class last season — and you still have 13 new names.
Coincidentally, it’s the same four teams — Papillion-La Vista, Papillion-La Vista South, Lincoln East and Gretna — that are new to both Class A tournaments.
Class B boys will have fresh faces in Grand Island Northwest and Omaha Roncalli, which have one combined state appearance since 2004. Postseason regulars Columbus and Lexington are back after missing last year’s tournament. North Platte, on the heels of upsetting defending Class B champion South Sioux City in Saturday’s district final, was in the Class A field a year ago.
The Bennington girls are the ultimate newbie, making the program’s first state tournament appearance. The Badgers are joined by Hastings, Omaha Duchesne and North Platte as Class B additions.
And there will be at least two new champions as Millard North (Class A girls) and South Sioux City (Class B boys) failed to make the tournament.
Kearney (Class A boys) has the best odds of repeating, but will be without senior Elliott Lebsack, the Bearcats’ third-leading scorer who broke his leg in a district title win.
The other returning champion — Elkhorn in Class B girls — has its work cut out with a first-round meeting against top-ranked Elkhorn South, a team the Antlers have lost a pair of matches to this season.
The six-day state tournament begins Wednesday with all matches at Creighton’s Morrison Stadium.
Boys championships are slated for May 13, with the girls finals set for the next night.