Back on their home pitch for the first time in weeks, the Northwest College men’s soccer team battled the elements, injury and the top-ranked team in Region IX to come away with a 1-1 split on …
Back on their home pitch for the first time in weeks, the Northwest College men’s soccer team battled the elements, injury and the top-ranked team in Region IX to come away with a 1-1 split on the weekend.
Against Laramie County Community College (6-3, 4-0 in Region IX play) Friday, weather delayed the start by almost three hours. When the game finally began, the Trappers (6-2-1, 2-2) found out why the Golden Eagles are routinely at the top of Region IX, losing 6-1.
With Saturday’s weather a little more conducive to success, NWC regrouped against Region IX rival Western Wyoming, winning 2-0 in a contest that was more lopsided than the final score would indicate.
“We were able to watch some film on Saturday morning, talk about some things that we needed to be a little bit better at,” said NWC head coach Ben McArthur. “We came out Saturday afternoon and had a nice game against Western Wyoming.”
Following the loss to Laramie County, McArthur said his team needs to “get mentally stronger.”
“... We dominated the game’s first 38 minutes,” McArthur said of Friday’s contest. “They [LCCC] were playing a lot of long balls because our midfielders were applying good pressure.”
The game was scoreless until the game’s 29th minute, when LCCC’s Abe Lopez broke the stalemate. LCCC scored again off the foot of Manny Tapia in the final minute of the half, and the Golden Eagles held a 2-0 lead at the break.
“One of our best players loses the ball in a bad spot and gives up a penalty kick. And then right before halftime, they score on a free kick,” McArthur said. “We weren’t completely, mentally focused, didn’t have the right challenges in the right places. So we were kind of shellshocked going into halftime.”
Tapia scored twice more in the early minutes of the second half, giving him a hat trick for the game and LCCC a 4-0 lead.
“The wheels kind of fell off at that point,” McArthur said. “Mentally, we just weren’t tough enough.”
Trapper forward Alejandro Fernandes got the home team on the board in the game’s 65th minute, converting on a free kick, but the Golden Eagles scored twice more to win 6-1.
“... late in the game, we were just trying to limp to the end,” McArthur said, adding, “It wasn’t our best effort.”
Arthur Lopes and Ryan Bevins split time in goal for the Trappers, with Bevins giving up four goals on 11 shots; Lopes was scored on twice in six shots.
“We hope we get a chance to play LCCC again,” McArthur said. “There’s a reason why they’re No. 1 in the region. Every time we made a mistake, they punished us for it — that’s what good teams do.”
However, showing a resiliency that’s become a defining feature of this team, the Trappers battled back into the win column Saturday, blanking Western Wyoming 2-0.
“Our decision-making wasn’t the best in the attacking third, but our possession game was on point,” McArthur said. “They [Western Wyoming] were chasing shadows for 90 minutes.”
Sophomore defender Brandon Pyron, known as “Woody” to his teammates, scored his first-ever college goal at the 36-minute mark to give the Trappers a 1-0 lead. The Kalispell, Montana, native used his 6’4” height to his advantage on a corner kick, scoring on a header; Chanhwi Jung and Marco Carrenho were credited with assists on the play.
“Our two center backs — Woody [Pyron] and his counterpart Chanwhi Jung — between the two of those guys, they just locked it down,” McArthur said. “They keep the ball, spray it around the field when they need to, help keep possession. The other team couldn’t get anything going on them. And Woody scored a goal. You want your center backs to be defensively sound, but anytime they can score a goal for you, it’s a bonus.”
Despite generating multiple scoring opportunities, the score remained 1-0 until the game’s 82nd minute, when Fernandes scored an insurance goal to make it 2-0, off an assist by Pedro Gallardo.
The Trappers finished the game with 28 total shots, compared to just four for Western.
“I think our possession for the game was probably around 85-15, and when you have possession that much that can demoralize a team,” McArthur said. “The score was only 2-0, but it felt like it was way worse.”
The Trappers are back on the bus this weekend for another long road swing against a pair of Region IX opponents, this time to Colorado. They’ll take on Trinidad State (3-5, 3-2 in Region IX play) Friday and Otero Junior College (5-3, 4-1 in Region IX play) Saturday, two historically strong teams in the region.
“This week in practice, we’ll talk about how do we continue to generate quality scoring opportunities from that possession we showed against Western,” McArthur said. “I tell the guys there has to be a balance — if you’re 18 yards out and you have a clean shot, you shoot the ball. But if you’re 25-yards out and you can make one or two more passes to free up somebody in that 15-yard range, then you do that.”