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Second half surge helps Trappers draw

Northwest College freshman goalkeeper Kyle Lavendar grabs a ball while warming up for an appearance in Monday’s preseason scrimmage against Rocky Mountain College in Cody. The Trappers drew the Bears 3-3. Northwest College freshman goalkeeper Kyle Lavendar grabs a ball while warming up for an appearance in Monday’s preseason scrimmage against Rocky Mountain College in Cody. The Trappers drew the Bears 3-3. Tribune photos by Randal Horobik

Down 2-0 at half, No. 18 Northwest forces 3-3 tie

Trailing 2-0 at intermission in an exhibition game against a Rocky Mountain College team that had pounded them 4-1 just 48 hours earlier, it would have been understandable had the 18th-ranked Northwest College men’s soccer team opted to pack it in a little early on Monday night in Cody.

Instead, the Trappers emerged from intermission with renewed energy to force a 3-3 tie. For head coach Rob Hill, it was a moment of growth that he needed to see.
“We’ve got the technical ability,” said Hill. “What we saw in the second half was that if we play with desire and intensity, we can play some good soccer. If we can carry that intensity over into practice, it’s going to be a big boost. It should give us confidence of what we’re capable of if we do the right things. If we go back to playing soft in practice though, it just wipes this all away.”
Playing their first-ever soccer exhibition match in Cody, which has produced four Trapper players in the three-year history of the men’s program, the Trappers surrendered a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half to trail 2-0.
Glasgow, Scotland’s Jamie McMorrow changed that early in the second half when he found himself on a breakaway and slipped a well-paced ball past the keeper and just inisde the left post for his second goal of the preseason. The opportunity was set up by Worland’s Kris Mull, who stepped in front of a wayward RMC pass and fed the ball to a sprinting McMorrow who took possession in stride as he raced behind the Bears’ defender attempting to mark him.
Following a Rocky goal to make the score 3-1, the Trappers struck again. Dean Johnson, one of just four returning sophomores from last year’s regional championship team, took a McMorrow pass just outside the top right corner of the box and ripped a shot high into the far corner of the goal to draw Northwest back to within a goal.
“That was a cracker of a goal,” Hill said of Johnson’s strike. “We put him in the center that second half and he really stepped up for us. He played PDL (player development league) in Virginia over the summer and he’s really taken a leadership role for us this fall.”
The Trappers tied the game minutes later as Bonneville, Utah, freshman Gage Woodward sent the ball low across the mouth of the Bears’ goal, where a pair of teammates were sliding in to meet it. Mountain Home, Idaho, freshman Kevin Fekete was the Trapper to touch his foot to the ball and redirect it into net for the tying goal.
Both teams missed chances to win the contest. The Bears were given a golden chance after the Trappers were whistled for taking down an RMC player in the box, but sent the ensuing penalty kick off the post where it was cleared to safety by Northwest’s defense.
The Trappers had another attacking chance minutes later in which they enjoyed a numbers advantage, but slid their shot just outside the left post.
“We had our chances to win,” said Hill. “The last 20 minutes or so, I felt like we were the ones doing all the attacking and had them back on their heels.”
The outcome was a marked difference from last Saturday’s scrimmage in Billings. There, the Trappers surrendered four goals in the first half, only getting on the board with a McMorrow goal in the 4-1 exhibition loss.
“We played like a freshman team,” Hill said of that initial contest. “We looked like a brand new team and we got a lesson in needing to toughen up and being more physical.”
The Trappers also suffered an injury in the contest as Morgan Heaman, a signee out of Cody, suffered a broken leg in the scrimmage.
“It was pretty bad,” Hill said of the injury. “They took him straight into surgery from the field, and I’m sure that was in the back of some of the guys’ minds while we were playing as well.”
Hill said the injury means Heaman will be unable to compete for the Trappers this season.
“These two games gave us a chance to see how we measure up against a faster, stronger, older group of players,” said Hill. “I’m glad we got to play one of the games in Cody. We’ve had lots of players come from Cody to our program and it was nice to get some good support and a good crowd here watching the games. Hopefully that will generate some excitement and we can get them to come to Powell to build a crowd and watch some games during the season and support the Booster Club.”
The Trapper men play their final exhibition game of the season on Wednesday, Aug. 22, in Billings against Montana State University, Billings. The team opens the regular season on Saturday, Aug. 25, at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kan. The Trappers will also play Northwest Technical, a first-year program, on that road trip.

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