The Northwest College men’s soccer team traveled to Billings on Saturday for its second scrimmage of the season, falling to nationally-ranked Rocky Mountain College in a game that was closer …
The Northwest College men’s soccer team traveled to Billings on Saturday for its second scrimmage of the season, falling to nationally-ranked Rocky Mountain College in a game that was closer than the 8-2 final would indicate.
“Rocky went to the NAIA quarterfinals last year, so they’re good,” said Trappers’ head coach Ben McArthur. “They’re ranked eighth in the nation in the NAIA preseason polls. But we played them pretty tough for the first 30 minutes or so. We scored two goals; we very well could have scored five on them. We created good opportunities.”
The Trappers scored on the Bears twice in the game’s first 15 minutes, though one of the goals was nullified by an offsides penalty.
“I thought it was a questionable call, though I haven’t seen the film yet,” McArthur said. “But I think that woke them [Rocky] up a bit. We played them close for 25-30 minutes, then the level of play went up. We couldn’t match that level.”
McArthur said the Trappers will take a lot away from the experience as he works to narrow down what will eventually be his starting lineup. The first-year coach used 28 players, though he said that won’t always be the case.
“The game really gave me an idea of where we’re at and what we need to work on,” he said. “Honestly, every single mistake that we made, Rocky punished us for. And that’s what good teams do. We have to learn from that and apply that to our game; when we play teams and they make mistakes, we have to capitalize.”
The Trappers’ three goalkeepers — Arthur Lopes, Colson DeCarlo and Ryan Bevins — all saw playing time in net again, though McArthur said a clear favorite for the starting job has yet to emerge.
“We’re still trying to figure out which keeper is going to play mistake-free,” he said. “We played all three again against Rocky, and all three made a mistake that cost us a goal. So we have to fix that; we’re still waiting to see which keeper is going to step up and say, ‘I’m your guy.’ It hasn’t happened yet.”
Despite the score, McArthur said he feels the team is settling in to their roles; several players are starting to make an impact, including a couple of international recruits.
“We have a center back, Chanwi Jung from South Korea, he’s really stepped up for us. He’ll be a leader for us in the back line,” McArthur said. “We have five or six really good center mids, but one who’s really starting to stand out and show us he can be a special player is Ryoto Nakamura [Japan].”
Proving he can find the back of the net is Samuel Henrique, a freshman forward from Mato Grosso, Brazil. Henrique scored both of the Trappers’ goals against Rocky, and McArthur said he’ll be a player to watch.
“Samuel is a big, strong kid, and it was nice to get him on the score sheet,” he said. “ He has all the tools, so we need him to be dangerous. And he scored both of his goals in the run of play. Sometimes we rely on set pieces too much ...”
McArthur said he used the bus ride back from Billings to have an honest conversation with his players, emphasizing the idea that the Trappers want to be a top-ranked team in Region IX.
“We’re striving to reach that level, so part of it is having that conversation where you say, ‘Hey, this mistake? It can’t happen, and this is how we fix it,’” he said. “Those conversations sometimes are hard, because you’re looking a player in the eye and saying ‘This can’t happen. It has to be better.’ Then you explain to them a better option.”
The Trappers have one more scheduled scrimmage on Saturday before the team welcomes in Treasure Valley Community College for back-to-back games on Friday, Aug. 30 and Saturday Aug. 31.
“The games against Treasure Valley will obviously count, and 14 of our 16 games this season will be part of a back-to-back weekend,” McArthur said. “We’re gonna have to rely on our guys becoming a little more organized, clean up the mistakes in the back and then punish the other team when they make mistakes.”