Unfortunately, the Lady Mustangs (11-7-1, 4-4 in division) had other plans, shutting out the Lady Trappers 2-0 in Rock Springs and capping NWC’s first winless season (0-10) in program history.
“All things considered, I think they played well,” said Lady Trappers head coach Jessica Lum. “One huge factor was the game was played on turf, something we haven’t played on. So right there was a challenge. I definitely think we were a good match for them, but it just didn’t come together for us.”
Both teams played stellar defense, with WWCC finally breaking the 0-0 stalemate on a Kenzie Lucas rebound goal with 13 minutes to play in the first half.
“What was frustrating was we held them to 1-0 most of the game, which was really good,” Lum said. “We tried to score, we put our focus on that, but we just couldn’t get one in.”
Because the ball bounces differently and more often on turf, Lum said they had to switch up the strategy a bit heading into the second half. Down just 1-0, the opportunity was there for the Lady Trappers to make a run.
“I told the team they really needed to focus on keeping the ball on the ground, shortening passes and not leading too far,” Lum said. “I think we did a lot better at putting things together in the second half, creating chances for us. But that turf was pretty frustrating. But when you’re in that situation, you just gotta do the best you can, that’s all you can ask of your players.”
The Lady Mustangs added an insurance goal with just under seven minutes to play, as Maylee Thompson found the back of the net to end scoring for the game. It was a disappointing end to a long season, but Lum, a first-year coach, said the team never quit.
“I think our defense pretty much did their job; I don’t think they lacked on that,” Lum said. “It was a good effort.”
For the Lady Trappers, Lum said sophomore Hiroko Sogabe did a good job in the middle and Shayla Deming, having moved to wing from the back, did well creating some different combinations. At left back, Jess Shipley stepped up and fought for the ball.
“It was a pretty physical match; we were definitely tested that way,” Lum said. Shipley “fought really hard,” while Kenadee Jenkins “did a great job” improving the defense in the second half, the coach said.
Brandie Bedes also started out of her normal position up top to one in the back, where she “had a great showing for us on defense” and where her speed was an asset, according to Lum.
“Kayla Atkinson really fought hard up top,” the coach added. “We finished out the season a little differently with people, it was kind of fun to do that. And we held them to a low score.”
With the season at an end, Lum said the experience was a gratifying one, despite the team’s final record.
“As a team, we definitely had our ups and downs,” Lum explained. “For my part, I learned a lot about being a head coach; there’s a lot more to it than I expected. I knew there was a lot to the job, but it’s one of those things where no matter how much people try to prepare you for it, you’re never quite prepared for all of it.”
Lum called it a “growing experience,” one where she had to learn to be a different type of leader than what she was used to. She said she hopes the girls got something out of the experience as well.
“My main goal that I wanted us to finish with was how to learn to win and lose as a team,” she said, adding, “I feel like the girls, especially in our last game, did just that. I think we came a long way during the season.”