In a rematch of last season’s Region IX title game and the latest installment of what is quickly developing into a heated rivalry, the Trappers narrowly missed taking the upper hand early. Team scoring leader Leonardo Mederios rifled a ball off the cross bar in the 11th minute.
The Rattlers had early chances as well, narrowly missing a header off a free kick in the eighth minute and sliding a shot wide of the far post in the 18th. From there, the scoring chances diminished despite a pace of play that saw both teams bring the ball up the pitch at an energetic tempo.
Things got interesting late in the first half. Northwest goalkeeper Cameron Stanek was forced to make a sliding stop in the box in the 43rd minute. Two minutes later, at the opposite end of the field, a shoving match broke out between the two sides after a pair of Otero players made a play for a ball in the vicinity of a downed Trapper forward.
While officials were separating the parties in that confrontation, a secondary skirmish broke out some 15 feet away. The exchanges resulted in a play stoppage of several minutes, but ultimately led to no red cards being issued.
The halftime whistle sounded shortly after play resumed, sending the teams to intermission with the game still scoreless.
Play in the second half continued at an equally hectic pace. Stanek was forced to tip away a shot early in the second half. In the 56th minute, Northwest sent a solid header on goal, but was unable to get a foot on the ball while it was bounding loose in the box.
Following that near-miss, a quick kick and counterattack by the Rattlers resulted in the game’s first goal. Four minutes later, the Trappers really found themselves in a tight spot as the team received a red card for what officials ruled as an overly aggressive tackle.
The penalty left the Trappers a man down with 30 minutes remaining in regulation.
Through much of that time, Northwest was forced to endure a persistent Otero attack. Despite relentless pressure, the Rattlers were never able to add to their lead.
Hill began exhorting his team to take more risks as regulation time wore on. In the 81st minute, the Trappers received a golden opportunity on a free kick near the corner of their attacking zone, but failed to convert.
The Trappers made a couple more long runs in the waning minutes, finally breaking through when sophomore Adrian Elicerio ran onto a long pass down the middle of the field and flicked it with his head past the onrushing Otero keeper for a goal.
“I thought he was going to miss the ball when he went up for it,” Hill said of the Trappers’ score. “He really got up there and put it in goal. That was huge.”
The goal recharged the Rattlers’ intensity level and Otero threatened a premature end to the Trappers’ goal celebration in the 90th minute and stoppage time. The Rattlers had a free kick swerve just wide of the back post in stoppage time.
With both sides fighting cramping issues in the afternoon heat, the teams took the field for the overtime periods, where the first goal to score would decide the game. The Rattlers spent much of that 20 minutes on attack, but could not crack the Trappers’ back line. The most dangerous moment came in the 109th minute when Otero sent a ball off the corner of the goal, but the team failed to corral the ball on the carom and Northwest was able to kick it clear and reset its defense.
“This is a big confidence game,” said Hill, whose team is no stranger to battles when it comes to the Rattlers. Northwest lost in overtime at home in last year’s regular-season game in Powell. The Trappers fell by a goal to Otero in the Region IX title game.
With the draw, Northwest College moved to 1-1-1 on the season. The team is 0-1-1 in Region IX play. The Trappers played a Wednesday game at Western Nebraska. That game had not finished when today’s edition of the paper went to press.
Northwest Trapper women win
The Northwest College women’s soccer team scored a 2-0 victory at Western Nebraska on Wednesday. The victory improved the women’s team to 4-0 on the season and 2-0 in Region IX play.
Mariam Gelderloos scored unassisted in the 42nd minute to give the Trappers a 1-0 lead at intermission. In the 51st minute, freshman Samiha Simao ran onto a kick from goalkeeper Morgon Cox and chipped the ball over the head of Western’s keeper for the game’s only other score.
The Trappers host North Idaho at 2 p.m. on Friday. The college will dedicate Trapper Field at the conclusion of that contest.
The men’s game against Western Nebraska had not concluded when today’s paper went to press. A summary will appear in Tuesday’s edition.