Northwest falls to Northeastern, Western Nebraska in home opener
It was a rough opening weekend for the Northwest College women’s soccer team, as the Lady Trappers dropped a pair home games to Northeastern Junior College and Western Nebraska Community College at Trapper Field.
Both games were hard-fought contests, with the Lady Trappers creating plenty of scoring opportunities. Finding the back of the net proved to be a little more of a challenge, however, as NWC fell to the Plainswomen and the Lady Cougars 2-0 and 3-1 respectively.
“I was pretty happy with our performances for the most part,” said Lady Trappers head coach Jessica Lum. “We were really hoping for a win. We came out a little bit flat, I would say, but we put some really nice passes together, we ended up dominating most of the games. We had 31 shots on goal — we just couldn’t put any in.”
For this early in the season, Lum was impressed with her team’s level of communication on the field. That said, the excitement of the home-opening weekend may have played a part in the Lady Trappers’ scoring woes.
“The players were excited, but I think anxious, too,” Lum said. “So when it came down to scoring, I could tell they really, really wanted to score. It just wasn’t happening for us. We needed to settle down a little bit.”
NJC 2, Lady Trappers 0
Both teams came out strong to open the first half, with the Lady Trappers spending a bit more time down on the Plainswomen’s end of the field. NJC finally broke the scoring drought toward the end of the half as Plainswoman Jaycie Dillenburg snuck one by NWC keeper Katelyn Behrens for a 1-0 halftime lead.
Both defenses continued to turn away scoring chances in the second half. NJC’s Sierra Hinkel added an insurance goal in the game’s 80th minute, and the Plainswomen rolled out of Powell with a 2-0 win.
“Northeastern only had like five shots [on goal],” Lum said. “Unfortunately, they scored on two of them.”
The Lady Trappers out-shot NJC 14-5 for the game, a statistic that, if continued, will eventually lead to more scores. Freshman Nicola Waddell led NWC with seven shots on goal, followed by four apiece from Holly Burley, Hiroko Sogabe and Frankie Cervantes.
Brandie Beddes‚ Jessie Shipley and Powell native Kayla Atkinson added three shots on goal each, while Cody’s Ashly Nieters rounded out the shots on goal list with one.
“We were really looking for a win this game,” Lum explained. “They didn’t have any subs, and as a coach I was hoping we’d get up pretty quick and then I’d be able to pull back a little bit, give players a rest. That didn’t really happen.”
WNCC 3, NWC 1
Saturday’s game against Western Nebraska Community College, featured another up-tempo performance by the Lady Trappers, though it unfortunately yielded the same result, as the Lady Cougars held on for a 3-1 win.
The game featured NWC’s first goal of the season, as sophomore Holly Burley found the back of the net to give the Lady Trappers an early 1-0 lead. The Lady Cougars answered with a pair of goals, one each by Courtney Nelson and Julia Stratford to take a 2-1 lead into the half.
“This game, I thought we came out a lot stronger,” Lum said. “Our goal was to score in the first 15 minutes of the game, and we did that, so that was pretty cool. But I think our lack of fitness just caught up to us.”
The tempo slowed a bit for both teams in the second half, as each felt the effects of playing a game the day before. Bianca Gomez added an insurance goal 11 minutes into the second half, and that would be the last of the scoring, as the Lady Cougars left Trapper Field with a 3-1 win.
“Again, we had a lot more shots than they did, but I think we just got tired,” Lum said. “When that started happening in the first half, they [WNCC] started finding holes and breaking through.”
Waddell and Beddes paced the Lady Trappers with three shots on goal apiece. Burley, Sogabe and Cervantes added two shots each, with Burley providing the team’s only score. Shipley and Nieters had one shot apiece.
Keeper Behrens finished with 13 saves for NWC. Despite the loss, Lum said she’s encouraged by her team’s play, and is looking forward to watching them progress throughout the season.
“I still feel like we’ve come a long way in a short period of time — especially considering that only five of these girls played last year,” Lum said. “It’s a pretty young, inexperienced team overall, and the fact that we are holding our own says something.”
Lum praised her defense for keeping the games close when shots refused to go in, especially the first game.
“Drew Groll had a strong game, she really hustled a lot for us in the back,” the coach said. “Kayla Atkinson really covered a lot of ground, she was playing left back, but was running up and making plays as well. Holly [Burley] was making great plays up top, she’s kind of our playmaker. She created a lot of awesome chances for us.”
The Lady Trappers have a bit of a respite before their next game, an away match against Gillette on Friday, Sept. 8. Fitness is something Lum said the team will work on before taking the field again.
“I think the players recognize that as well,” she said. “Both games, we came out those first 20-25 minutes looking pretty good. But you could tell as we got tired, we started making more mistakes.”
This is the first season Gillette College has fielded a women’s soccer team, but Lum said not to let that fool you. Because of the talent pool the Lady Pronghorns have to pull from, their learning curve is lower than most first-year teams.
“As a city, Gillette has a pretty developed travel club,” Lum said. “So even though it’s their first year, I’m expecting it to be a tough match for us.”
“But I think if we’re able to play defense like we have been, we should be fine,” she said, adding, “We also need to put shots in the back of the net.”