57, 56, 55…The clock at Morrison Stadium ticked as the Westside boys varsity soccer team went on one final run in the second extra time period of a state semifinal matchup with Lincoln Southwest. But then a whistle rang through the 6,000 seat soccer-specific stadium as Westside’s senior forward Peter Novoa was shown his second cautionary warning; consequently, he was sent off. The Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) states the following.

“Any red card issued to a player or coach constitutes an ejection,” it says. “Any participant or coach ejected from a contest…shall be ineligible for the next athletic contest at that level of competition.”

After the red card was given, the Westside boys went on to defeat Lincoln Southwest in a shootout, 1-0 (7-6), to advance to the NSAA Class A Boys State Championship match. Due to underlying rules, however, Novoa will not be allowed to suit up for the match. The forward had earned 57 points on 22 goals and 13 assists for the Warriors. Senior midfielder Sam Mormino said that Westside will have to learn to fill that void.

“Peter is a big player for us,” Mormino said. “So I think it really means that the entire team is gonna have to step up and come together to fill his role, especially on the attacking end.”

In the following days, the decision to show a second yellow card to Novoa has caused a stir among coaches, players, and community members from various sports. The Warriors will take on Kearney in the NSAA Class A Boys State Championship game on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. at Morrison Stadium on the campus of Creighton University.

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