On Apr. 1, the Bearcats traveled to Lincoln to play the Southwest Silverhawks, but came home with a 2-3 loss. The boys struggled to connect throughout the midfield and on offense, which led to multiple Silverhawk scoring opportunities. Although being down 1-3 for most of the second half, the boys kept fighting but couldn’t find the equalizer. Sophomores Royce Austen and Michael Root were Kearney’s goal scorers.
Looking to bounce back from the Southwest loss, the Bearcats hosted the Lexington Minutemen in a matchup between two top ten squads. Striking right before halftime, junior Sam Straka executed a corner kick to put the Cats up one. The Minutemen came out of the locker room very offensive-minded, but Austen managed to bring the score to 2-0 after finishing a well-struck shot. The Minutemen later had struggles to find any quality shots past Kearney’s defense and goalie sophomore Jacob Hardy, who posted 10 saves on the night.
Apr. 7 marked the opening rounds of the GNAC tournament, with the Cats and the Hastings Tigers squaring off in the quarterfinals. The Bearcats controlled most of the game, with Austen and sophomore Carson Schwarz each earning a goal, but the Tigers persisted and kept the game even at 2-2. With 33 seconds left, Austen scored the game-winning goal for Kearney ending the match 3-2.
Advancing in tournament play the following day, Kearney played Lexington once again. With multiple yellow and red cards, the back and forth game ended in a 4-2 Kearney win, with goals from Austen (2), Schwarz and sophomore AJ Faz.
In championship play, the Columbus Discoverers and the Kearney Bearcats fought for the GNAC title. Although Columbus struck first early in the first half, the Cats found the equalizer right before halftime with a goal by Austen assisted by Faz. The second half ended with no goals scored by either team, resulting in a penalty kick shootout. After going through seven shooters for both teams, Hardy blocked the final Discoverer penalty kick, winning the shootout 6-5, and the game 2-1, resulting in Kearney’s first GNAC championship since 2013.