The Northwest College soccer teams were on the road last weekend against conference rivals Sheridan and Gillette, with each game holding playoff implications as the 2018 season begins to wind down.
The two teams split against Gillette, with the men holding on for a 1-0 win, while the Lady Trappers, hoping to build on a 1-1 tie against Gillette a week earlier, fell to the Lady Pronghorns 2-0.
Neither team fared well against Sheridan, with the Trappers losing 1-0 and the Lady Trappers falling 6-0, in a contest that was closer than the final score indicated.
“I wasn’t happy with the end result, but I was happy with our effort,” said NWC’s Bobby Peters, head coach of both programs. “Both teams showed they can play at that level — it’s just the minor breakdowns that we need to keep working on.”
Trappers 1, Gillette 0
Sheridan 1, Trappers 0
After Friday’s game against Sheridan was pushed back to Sunday because of weather, the Trappers (3-4-1 overall, 2-3-1 in conference) opened their weekend Saturday with a 1-0 win over Gillette. The win avenged a 3-2 loss to the Pronghorns earlier in the season, giving NWC a series split.
NWC head coach Bobby Peters said he decided to try a switch in formation for last weekend’s games, and it seemed to pay off.
“Because our midfield is playing so well, a lot of teams are trying to send the ball quickly into our backfield and get in behind us early,” Peters explained. “Our midfield is shutting teams down, so teams are trying to bypass it all together. So I switched up our formation a little bit to help counter that, and it helped out a ton this weekend.”
Against Gillette (7-5, 5-2), the Trappers wasted no time in scoring the gamewinner, as sophomore forward Jarrett Shrum found the back of the net in the game’s first minute, off an assist by Jonathan Reynoso and Sergio Santamarina. Northwest would go on to score twice more, though both goals were waved off due to offsides penalties.
“We beat Gillette 1-0, but it was actually 3-0,” Peters said. “And the video proves it. Our guys were onsides, clear as day. The calls were just not correct.”
Shrum’s goal was the result of a quick combination play after the forward got into the backfield.
“Sergio [Santamarina] received the ball and played it back to Reynoso,” Peters said. “Reynoso flicked it into the backfield and Jarrett [Shrum] ran onto it and tapped it in the corner.”
Both teams’ defenses locked it down after that, though the Trappers continued to generate scoring chances, as evidenced by the two disallowed goals. Peters said the team has matured in its style of play, not letting bad calls by the officials and questionable play by their opponents affect them.
“Our guys are actually stepping up and playing through all the nonsense,” Peters said. “They [the Trappers] are not so focused on them being the victims; they’re focused now on winning. That’s a mentality shift they really needed at this point of the season.”
Since playing Sheridan to a 1-1 tie in early September, the Trappers have consistently improved, winning two of their next three games. In Sunday’s rematch against Sheridan, however, one goal proved to be enough for the Generals, as they held on for a 1-0 win. Sheridan’s Keino Davids had his club’s only shot of the game, but he made it count, beating NWC’s Marcus Olmos for the game-winner in the 12th minute.
“We allowed one shot on goal against Sheridan, and they scored it,” Peters said. “It’s just one of those games where, just like against Gillette, we dominated possession. We controlled the flow of the game.”
Officiating again became an issue, as a play that might have resulted in a penalty kick for the Trappers was ignored. That said, the Trappers’ inability to take advantage of their free kicks continues to be a concern.
“We had enough free kicks to tie up the game and close it out,” Peters said. “We just didn’t capitalize on them. It’s been plaguing us all season, for whatever reason. I have them work on them in practice, but come game time, I don’t know what it is, we just don’t execute on them.”
The Trappers travel to LCCC Saturday for a rematch against the Golden Eagles, winners of a 2-0 slugfest against NWC earlier this season. The first contest featured a combined 11 yellow cards issued for various infractions, and Peters doesn’t expect Saturday’s game to be any less physical.
“I know what their gameplan is, and it’s basically to hack the living daylights out of us,” Peters said. “But our guys aren’t focused on the cheap shots that are coming. I told them they have to play your game, just go in there and get the result. That will show them more than anything. Don’t talk, don’t try to react, just put it on the scoreboard.”
With the season winding down, the next few games will be important in determining seeding for the Region IX tournament, and Peters said his team needs to make a statement now.
“I can see teams we play coming up not wanting to give up much,” Peters said. “Right now, we’re fighting for a third or fourth place. I’m not too concerned about that — as long as we get a victory in one of our last two games, we’ll be in good shape. If we tie or lose, we’re putting ourselves in a bad position.”
The games coming up on Saturday and Wednesday — at home against Western Wyoming — “will be a big test to show us where we’re at and what we’re able to do going forward,” he said.
Sheridan 6, Lady Trappers 0
Gillette 2, Lady Trappers 0
The Lady Trappers (0-9-1, 0-6-1) opened play on Friday against Sheridan College (3-4-1, 3-2-1), 9-0 winners against NWC earlier this season at Trapper Field. Playing the Lady Generals on their home field, NWC head coach Bobby Peters said the game was much more competitive, despite the 6-0 score.
“We had a gameplan coming into Sheridan, and unfortunately, we didn’t execute on it,” Peters said. “The girls were upset about it, but they fought hard. It wasn’t an effort thing. They’re [Sheridan] a good offensive team, and if you give them an inch, they take a mile.”
Minor mistakes against the Lady Generals turned into major opportunities, as Sheridan’s Chezney Mamalis beat NWC’s Kenadee Jenkins for a goal in the game’s fifth minute for a quick 1-0 lead. Hannah Ozman and Kristen Franke also scored in the first half, making the score 3-0 at the midway point.
“It was a matter of someone not covering back in their lane and giving the ball away in the wrong zone [that] ended up costing us a goal,” Peters said. “We were trying to limit the attacking options and then counter-attack and try to get a goal. It didn’t work out for us; there wasn’t much we could do when we went down a goal or two. Sheridan’s a good squad, and we knew it was going to be a struggle the whole game. They just match up very well with what we have to offer.”
The Lady Generals scored three more goals in the second half to make the final 6-0. Jenkins was kept busy in net playing for an injured Christina Lacek, and Peters said the sophomore had a solid weekend.
“It was Kenadee’s first game back in the goal, she stepped in and did really well,” he said. “I think against Gillette she allowed two goals on 20 shots, which is not a bad percentage at all.”
Against Gillette Saturday, Northwest was again the victim of an early mistake that led to a Lady Pronghorns goal in the game’s opening minutes.
“There was a giveaway in the wrong spot, and their first goal was scored on a free kick,” Peters said. “But Gillette’s second goal didn’t come until the final minute of the game. we were pushing forward, trying to get some shots going and they caught us.”
Peters said he was happy with how the Lady Trappers played overall and that the team did a much better job creating scoring opportunities. In the end, it came down to Gillette being able to capitalize when the Lady Trappers couldn’t.
“They [Gillette] capitalized and we didn’t, that was the tale of the game,” he said. “It was one of those where I was very proud of the girls — they’ve put a lot of time and effort into improving this season. They battled all the way through, and I’m excited to go forward.”
Peters said there were many solid performances over the weekend, in addition to Jenkins’ play in net. Sophomores Brandi Bedes and Kayla Atkinson continue to provide veteran leadership, and the freshmen duo of Genevieve Sauers and Jules Novakovich can always be counted on to play hard.
“Brandi [Bedes] is very talented, she’s one who can go on and play at the next level,” Peters said. “She’s a playmaker, she defends very well. Kayla [Atkinson] has been playing a position recently she hasn’t played before at center back, and did really well these last two games.”
The Lady Trappers travel to Cheyenne this weekend to take on Laramie County Community College, 6-0 winners over NWC in the teams’ previous meeting. The Golden Eagles are undefeated in conference at 4-0 and ranked No. 12 in the nation.
“LCCC is going to be a tough one as always, but if we sit in and play our game, play smart and make the right passes, we should be able to compete,” Peters said. “We need to not give them opportunities, and that’s really what we’ve struggled with. I’m hoping we can get some results these final four games.”