Gage Woodward scored twice. Jake Higginbotham added another goal and Devin Farnes rounded out the scoring with a penalty-kick goal for the Trapper men against Western Nebraska.
“It was nice to see us finish well with the ball in that game,” said Trapper head coach Rob Hill. “We’ve shown a big improvement in that area over the last week or so and it’s giving the team confidence.”
But the Trappers’ coach also saw room for improvement. Most notably, he pointed to the team’s overall pace of play.
“I thought it was a pretty slow game,” said Hill. “I thought we definitely dominated the game and played the better soccer, but it was a test for us on how well we can exert our own tempo on the game, and I still don’t feel we’re doing that enough. We match the pace of whoever we’re playing.”
That may have come back to bite the Trappers on Saturday against LCCC. Northwest fell behind early when Higgingbotham was whistled for a foul in the box, setting up a penalty kick opportunity, which LCCC was able to convert.
“I didn’t see it that way,” said Hill. “I thought he made a clean tackle.”
Northwest recovered the goal after changing into more of an attacking formation. The Trappers equalized on a Farnes goal off an assist from Woodward.
“I was feeling pretty good about our chances at that point,” said Hill. “But the game started to get a bit chippy after that and in an attempt to get control of things, the ref gave a free kick that I don’t think should have happened and we mentally switched off.”
LCCC converted the kick into points. The Trappers were later red-carded, to go down a man in the waning minutes. The team still had a chance to tie the game late on a free kick, but failed to convert and surrendered the game’s final goal on a 2-on-1 counterattack.
“I don’t think the score shows the true reflection of the game,” said Hill. “But it did seem like we got outmuscled on the ball. It was a good lesson for us and a good lesson for the freshmen that they have to be tougher.”
That toughness will have to come in a hurry. The Trappers host Region IX rival Otero on Friday. Newcomer Trinidad State makes its first trip to Powell for a Saturday contest.
Northwest will be shorthanded for Friday’s 5 p.m. game with Otero. The red card issued in the LCCC game means an automatic suspension for the next contest. Another Trapper player picked up his fifth yellow card of the season, according to Hill. That, too, carries a one-game suspension, which will be served on Friday.
“We’re not going to be at full strength, but hopefully we’ll have some guys step forward and play well,” said Hill.
In women’s action, the Trappers saw NJCAA Division I soccer’s national player of the week Samhia Simao score twice and assist on a third goal in Northwest’s 4-1 victory over Western Nebraska.
Simao scored in the 58th and 69th minutes to help the Trappers open daylight on a one-goal contest. Simao had assisted on the game’s first goal, a shot from Cassidy Aguilar in the 33rd minute.
Two minutes later, Christine Silvestrone took a feed from Hali Henwood for a goal to send the Trappers up 2-0 at halftime. Western struck quickly in the 47th minute as play resumed, setting the stage for Simao’s late knockout flurry.
The Trappers’ hot play continued into Saturday as Simao scored on a Charlie Streek set-up pass in the fourth minute against nationally-ranked Laramie County.
In retrospect, that goal perhaps changed the context of the game for the Trappers.
“I think we were overwhelmed that we’d scored against LCCC,” said Trapper coach Kaylin Olivas. “I don’t know why, but that really seemed to be the case, because after that, we went into defensive mode and stopped playing our style of soccer.”
The result was a trio of late first-half LCCC goals that buried the Trappers by intermission.
“It was the first bad first half we’ve had this season,” said Olivas. “Usually it’s the second half that we’ve struggled with, but this time we lost our focus and didn’t play to our style, and you can’t do that with LCCC, because they’re a very good side.”
Both Trapper teams are now 5-3 overall and 1-1 in the Region IX standings. The Northwest College women host Otero on Friday and Trinidad State on Saturday. Both are first-year programs, but that doesn’t mean Olivas is looking past the games.
“Otero is unbeaten and they have a good offensive side,” said Olivas. “I definitely think they’ll be a challenge for us when they come in here.”
Kickoff for the women’s game against Otero is 3 p.m., Friday, with the men’s game to follow. Saturday’s Trinidad State game kicks off at 1 p.m., again with the men’s game to follow.