The 2017 Northwest College men’s soccer team featured a number of firsts: A first-year coach, the first season sweep of conference rival Laramie County Community College and the program’s first ever Scholar All-American in sophomore captain Ryan Tyrer.
Fast-forward a year, and the Trappers are once again a team in transition. Head coach Stan Rodrigues, fresh off of being named Region IX-North Coach of the Year, left the program earlier this summer to take over coaching duties at Adams State University in Colorado. Faced once again with a vacant coaching spot, and no time to find a permanent replacement, NWC turned to first-year Lady Trappers coach Bobby Peters for a temporary fix.
“It was definitely unexpected, but I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Peters said of taking over as interim coach. “There’s a lot of talent there, and I’m used to coaching large teams.”
Thankfully for Peters, Rodrigues was a tireless and effective recruiter of character players: just about every player who signed or committed to NWC is on campus to honor that commitment. With nearly 30 players on the roster and the first week of practice in the books, Peters said he likes what he sees.
“It’s been pretty pleasant on that end, to tell you the truth,” he said. “The only issue I had with the girls side is we weren’t able to find enough numbers right off the bat. With the guys it’s the opposite, and the biggest thing about them is I really don’t have anyone where I go, ‘Man, I can’t use that guy.’ The depth is really nice. It’s probably one of the better teams I’ve been able to coach at the juco level.”
Peters has converted a few players to different positions, moves the players have embraced. Much like the women’s team, players are wanting to do what’s necessary for the betterment of the team.
“I have to say, there was a pretty good recruiting job put in [by Rodrigues],” Peters said. “It’s giving me a lot to work with.”
Incoming freshmen Jonathan Reynoso from Oregon and Matheus Macedo from Brazil had strong first weeks, and look to make an immediate impact.
“Matheus [Macedo] is strong. I moved him from center mid to a striker role, and he’s really been fulfilling that role,” Peters said. “Rennan Labanca at center back and Ryan SilvaDeAlmeida, two more Brazilians, are playing fantastic. And Alejandro Fernandez at attacking mid, all of these guys have great ability, great recognition for the system I put in place, they fit almost perfectly.”
Peters likes to run out of a 4-3-3 formation, as well as other formations that rely on a lot of attacking and ball possession.
“These guys [the incoming recruits] fit seamlessly into it, so it’s been pretty neat,” he said. “With the players we have, we don’t lack speed. I can tell you that right now.”
Peters also has a strong group of returners from last season’s 5-5-1 side he can rely on to help ease the transition of the new recruits. Captains Edgar Meza and Daniel Lobera, along with Jarrett Shrum, Kyle Lamb and Marshall Rhoades, have all returned with “a great attitude,” according to Peters, and will provide positive leadership. Also returning are Sergio Santamarina and Carlos Somolinos.
“We have a good leadership group,” he said. “Realistically, I’ve had zero issues with these guys. Every single one of them came and were willing to help, they’ve done everything I’ve asked. They also offer help where needed, and that’s nice to have. Sometimes, if I’ve overlooked something, they’re already fixing it.”
Though still early in the process, Peters said he’s enjoyed coaching both teams, and he’s inspired by how well the teams get along with one another.
“The teams hang out together, they’ve played some volleyball in their off time together,” he explained. “They’re just having a good time. I think there are a lot of good personalities on both sides.”
Peters said he likes to preach family whenever the teams do things outside of practice, and with such a diverse mix of American and international players filling both rosters, watching the players go out of their way to help each other on and off the pitch is something he likes to see.
“There’s different people, different cultures, different places they’ve been, so I try to have them all help each other and work with each other when they can,” he said. “They’ve been melding really well; they get along great. There’s been a great camaraderie with everybody.”
Both teams will play a couple of scrimmages, with the season opening on Aug. 22.