OMAHA | Lupe Gonzalez was ready to unleash his team and all it could do. Unfortunately for Schuyler, No. 2 South Sioux City's 80-minutes of intensity proved to be too much for the No. 3 Warriors.
"I told the boys that when I saw them warming up I felt like I have 24 leashes and they are just chomping at it and chomping at it to get after it," said the SSC coach who is in his first season leading the program. "It is a wonderful feeling to see that and a wonderful feeling to watch them want that and go after it with a passion."
On a near perfect Saturday morning at Morrison Stadium on the Creighton University campus, the Cardinals proved nothing was going to derail their mission of reaching the Class B championship game.
In as dominating a performance as a 1-0 final can be SSC is heading to the title game after blanking the Warriors for the second time in a week. The Cardinals dominated possession throughout the match rarely giving the Warriors even the chance to get a shot on goal as it held a 22-3 advantage.
"Schuyler is a very talented team, similar styles, so we knew if we tried to just possess, possess they would outplay us," Gonzalez said. "So we tried to take a little different approach. Pressure them, pressure them and don't give them time to think or the room."
The Cardinals will face top-seeded Elkhorn South in the Class B championship at 5 p.m. Monday. Elkhorn South downed Columbus 1-0 in the other semifinal.
South Sioux City, which last reached a state semifinal in 2014 when it was in Class A, will now play for its third Class B championship since 2012. SSC won the title in 2013 with a 2-1 win over Omaha Skutt avenging a 3-2 loss to Skutt in the finals the year before.
"It has been a while since we made it to state and it is something we have been wanting to do and working hard to conquer," junior Miguel Curiel said. "It is a great feeling (to play for a title)."
SSC dominated possession in the first half outshooting the Warriors 9-1, but it wasn't until late in the first half that the Cardinals were able to take advantage of playing in Schuyler's end of the field.
Senior Armando Garcia crossed a ball in the box that saw an attempted header missed, but senior forward Basha Said gathered the ball and rocketed a shot that rang off the crossbar and down over the goal line in the 26th minute.
"It was a real important goal and then when I made it ... I was really happy that I made it," said Said, who increased his goal total to 10 on the season with the tally. "The ball came from the corner and I chested it out and hit it. It was a beautiful goal too."
For Said, there was no doubt the ball crossed the goal line.
"I thought it was a goal because it hit the post and it hit over the line so I just started celebrating."
The Cardinals (19-3), who beat the Warriors 3-0 in the sub-district final just nine days ago, were always a step or two faster often racing to a 50-50 ball while the Warriors were often waiting for the ball to get to them.
SSC had a couple of quality scoring chances in the second half including a header by Bryan Arellano off a long free kick that was just punched over the goal by Schuyler keeper Jose Gonzalez.
Schuyler (18-3) did pick up the pace and physicality in the final 20 minutes but the Cardinals were able to continue to execute their game plan.
"The last 15, 20 minutes it was all physicality, strength," Curiel said. "We were all tired and that is why it was more about strength then possession."
SSC goalkeeper Hector Chavez needed to make just two saves.