KEARNEY — The Kearney Bulldogs picked up right where they left off in last year’s Class 3 state tournament.

A third-place finish in 2018 is the biggest motivator in the journey to bring Kearney its first girls soccer state title.

It took Kearney just one half to pick up a 14-0 season-opening win Tuesday, March 26, against Grandview at home. Due to the large Kearney lead, the game was called at halftime.

Taking control early and keeping the possession on the Grandview side of the field for nearly the entire half, Kearney showed just how dominant it can be this year.

Twelve Bulldogs scored as they racked up 14 goals on 28 shots. Eight of the 14 goals were generated off assists, and coach Amanda Hopkins said the game showed how they smooth their offense can run.

“They know what talent they have,” Hopkins said. “They put in work at practice and work hard every single day. They move the ball really well together. It is a good unit.”

With the talent on the team, the goals for Hopkins and the team are simply put — a state title. In two years at the helm, Hopkins has guided the Bulldogs closer each year to the goal.

Hopkins said this year there is an extra emphasis on bringing the title home.

“We want a state title,” Hopkins said. “Kearney girls soccer does not have one in our history, and they want it. Last year we made it and got third at state, and it’s good, but not good enough. They realize what they can do together this year.”

With a combined record of 42-7 in two years under Hopkins, the goal of a state championship is not far fetched. The Grandview win was just the first step in a long road to championship status.

Despite a large margin of victory, it was one that offered Hopkins just a glimpse of what Kearney’s full potential is.

The Bulldogs played without two starters, including Caroline Kelly. Kelly had the lone goal in the state quarterfinals last season and two of the three goals in the state third place game.

The game merely served as a chance to get some live action and build team camaraderie.

“Our goal was to get one goal for every girl,” Hopkins said. “Some ended up with two or three, but it is a goal to see what the younger kids can do in a varsity game.”

Next for Kearney was a Wednesday, March 27, home game against Smithville.

The Warriors high-powered offense as expected to offer more of a test for the Bulldogs and give Hopkins the challenge she wants to see.

Smithville has scored 34 goals through four games and is coming off an 11-0 victory over Winnetonka on Tuesday, March 26.

Managing Editor of Digital Publishing Derek Brizendine can be reached by emailing derek.brizendine@dsjnow.com or by calling (660) 747-8123.

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