While Saturday may have been a day to remember for the Northwest College women’s soccer team, it quickly turned into one to forget on the men’s side. The Lady Trappers earned a 1-1 tie against visiting Gillette College — snapping a lengthy losing streak — while the Trappers fell to the Pronghorns 3-0.
“The girls really went out and earned this. They were pretty excited,” said NWC’s Bobby Peters, the head coach of both teams. “The guys side I was disappointed in. Gillette is a good squad, but they’re a team we can get results on.”
Lady Trappers 1, Gillette 1, 2OT
Against visiting Gillette College (4-3-2 overall, 3-3-2 in Region IX), the NWC women’s soccer team accomplished something it hadn’t done since October 2016: avoided a loss.
After a winless season a year ago, the Lady Trappers (0-7-1, 0-4-1) battled out of the loss column at Trapper Field, tying the Lady Pronghorns 1-1 in double overtime.
“The girls were really excited,” Peters said. “I told them that was the first step — you gotta break the trend, and then you can start changing it.”
Gillette’s Maria Rubin gave the Lady Pronghorns an early lead, scoring at the 6:20 mark on a play that caught the Lady Trappers, and their coach, off guard.
“Gabby [Carvalho] has been very consistent all year, but she made a square pass under pressure behind Brooke [Seidel], and the other team picked it up and ran right through our defense,” Peters said. “I was kind of surprised by that, but it happens. I told the girls it wouldn’t be one goal that decided this game. I think the girls really did well coming back.”
After trailing 1-0 for most of the game, NWC freshman Jules Novakovich of Cody found the back of the net for the Lady Trappers in the 76th minute, assisted by teammates Genevieve Sauers, also of Cody, and newcomer Natalia Colicci.
Solid play in net by keeper Christina Lacek during regulation and in the two overtime periods preserved the tie.
“There were a few scramble moments where Gillette really got on to us,” Peters said. “They hit the crossbar, they were a dangerous attacking team. The girls grew more confident as the game went on, and with Christina [Lacek] back there, she saved us a lot.”
Lacek finished the game with 12 saves on 13 shots, and continues to improve with every game, according to Peters.
“The shots I’ve seen beat her [Lacek] in the past, she’s been saving those now,” he said. “She really shines on the goalkeeping end, because she’s a shot stopper. You come in on her one [on] one, she knows how to make those saves. She had two or three saves that really kept us in there.”
Coach Peters also gave high marks to defenders Drew Groll and Kailee Ingalls, whose confidence playing in the back allowed Peters to move players around to better assist the offense.
“With Drew and Kailee organizing their center defense a lot better, I was able to put more offense forward,” he said. “As the game went on, we generated a few more opportunities because of that.”
One of those opportunities resulted in NWC’s lone goal, after Peters moved Novakovich up. Sauers pushed the ball into Gillette’s end and was awarded a free kick near the box, about 25 yards out.
“Gen [Sauers] set up and crossed the ball in,” Peters explained. “Our new girl Natalia Colicci challenged for the ball, and the defender and the goalkeeper concentrated on her and challenged her. In doing so, they lost track of the ball and it popped straight out to Jules [Novakovich] and she was there to pop it into the net.”
The tie keeps the Lady Trappers in the hunt for the regional tournament, with this weekend’s games against Sheridan and Gillette heavy with playoff implications.
“This next weekend, it’s going to come down to how do we play against Sheridan,” he said. “I know against them the first time we could have played so much better. We lost 0-9, and it was because our girls gave up down the road. Since then, we haven’t given up in a game. We’ve fought the entire match, we’ve put in 90 minutes of work — more in this case. ... If we can try to keep a clean sheet against each one of these teams, we can do well.”
Gillette 3, Trappers 0
As for the men’s home loss to Gillette, “the first 10 minutes, we came out slow,” Peters said of the Trappers. “Our defensive form was pretty poor, and Gillette took advantage of that right away. They sent a few quick balls in our backfield, and due to our disorganization, they found holes and capitalized on them.”
The Pronghorns wasted no time in getting on the board, as Juan Ramirez-Perez scored just six minutes in to give Gillette (6-4, 4-1) a 1-0 lead. Ramirez-Perez would score again just six minutes later, and the Pronghorns took a 2-0 lead into halftime. Peters said the Trappers (2-3-1, 1-2-1) were up to the task defensively, but the two quick goals had the team on its heels.
“We played well offensively at points, but we really didn’t generate a strong offensive opportunity,” Peters said. “We rushed things instead of being poised. One of our keys to the game was to maintain composure and keep balanced defensively, and for whatever reason, the first 20 minutes of the game, we didn’t do it.”
Gillette’s third goal came at the 87th minute, the result of a temporary switch at keeper for the Trappers. Starting keeper Marcus Olmos was given a yellow card for a hard tackle, necessitating an appearance by reserve keeper Noah Lund.
“He [Gillette’s Donovan Odier] got the shot and Noah [Lund] just wasn’t ready for it,” Peters explained. “Again, if we had finished our opportunities, we’re in there. It’s been a problem that’s snagged us in a couple of games at home. We’re just not finishing opportunities.”
The Trappers also had to contend with some questionable officiating, especially late in the game when the team was making a final push to avoid the shutout. Every time the Trappers were given a free kick, Gillette would kick the ball away from the players, bringing the game to a standstill.
“It happened about eight times, and each time it happens, it’s another five or 10 seconds off the clock,” Peters said. “If you’re delaying the game like that, it’s an automatic yellow card, any time. So to let it happen eight to 10 times is ridiculous. You can’t let the game progress like that, you can’t let the other team start dictating the terms of the game, and that’s what [the official] was allowing them to do.”
That said, officiating was just a part of the problem, according to Peters.
“We only allowed five shots on the day for them [Gillette],” he said. “But they finished three of them, so it was not a good show on that end. We didn’t capitalize on our opportunities, and we allowed them to have great opportunities early in the game from our mistakes defensively.”
With two more conference games scheduled on the road this weekend, Peters said the Trappers have to turn the corner now if they have eyes on postseason success.
“We’ve got two games coming up this weekend against Sheridan and Gillette, two games that we can get good results on,” Peters said. “Realistically, if we get results in both these games, we’ll be placed pretty well up in the region tournament.”