The Rattlers advanced with a 6-0 win over Trinidad State on Tuesday. Laramie County and Western Wyoming will face off in the other Friday semifinal. Both games will be played in Cheyenne with the winners meeting on Saturday for the regional title.
Otero and Northwest have split their two previous games this season, each winning on their home pitch.
Nate Hunt got Northwest on the scoreboard with 14:30 remaining in the first half in Tuesday’s quarterfinal contest. Hunt was the right person in the right place as he took the ball following some action in front of the Western Nebraska goal and fired it low through traffic and inside the right post for the Trappers’ first score.
Less than 10 minutes later, Jamie McMorrow, the Trappers’ goals leader through the regular season, slid the ball into goal to give Northwest College some breathing room going into intermission. That 2-0 margin would be more than enough.
Northwest’s defense and possession game took over from there. The Trappers held a decisive time of possession advantage in Tuesday’s contest and, for much of the middle 45 minutes of the game, rarely allowed Western Nebraska across the midfield stripe with the ball.
The visiting Cougars had some chances early with quick runs down the middle of the field. Once the Trappers’ defense caught on to that tactic, however, the Cougars were forced to resort to driving long balls deep from the back row in the hope of catching Northwest napping and springing a forward free.
It was a strategy that never came close to succeeding. Northwest outshot Western Nebraska 14-2 for the game.
Marcus Couldridge scored the game’s final goal for the Trappers, flicking a header into goal off a Northwest corner kick with 30 minutes remaining. Northwest had multiple chances to extend its lead, but was forced to settle for the 3-0 final count.
The victory improves the Trappers to 14-5 this season. Northwest meets rival Otero on Friday in one Region IX semifinal. The starting time for that match had not been announced as of press time.