With the first week of official practice now in the books, Northwest College women’s soccer coach Bobby Peters said he’s encouraged by what he’s seen so far.
“They’re all playing well,” Peters said of his team. “I’ve had them scrimmage a couple of times against my guys’ teams, a lot of the new incoming players, and they fared well for themselves. And the guys weren’t playing bad, so that’s not a knock on the other side. So I’m pretty happy with the results there.”
The recruits Peters brought in have been receptive to his coaching style, displaying a willingness to play wherever there’s a need, even if it’s not the position they’ve been accustomed to.
“The girls I’ve brought in are doing fantastic,” he said. “They’re filling their roles, they’re working with each other. The biggest thing for me is just getting them to play on the same page, which is the exact same with the men’s team too. We’re kind of at a point where we’re trying to blend all the different styles, and they’re coming along pretty well. They’re catching it really quickly.”
Cody standouts Jules Novakovich and Genevieve Sauers have both made strong impressions early on among the new recruits. Members of last year’s state championship Cody Fillies team and Class 3A All-State selections, Peters expected Novakovich and Sauers to be ready to hit the ground running.
“Jules [Novakovich] is playing really well up top, she’s shown some great quickness,” Peters said. “She’s attacking very well, and she’s learning to make great runs, creating a lot of space up there in the offensive end. With Genevieve [Sauers], she’s been playing well at each position I’ve tried her at, so I’m trying to figure out which one is the best for her. She’s excelled at each one I’ve put her at.”
Brazilian native Ingrid Caputo has also impressed, and Peters said the biggest challenge for Caputo will be to not only understand a different playing style, but to understand her fellow players.
“Luckily we have other Brazilian players to help translate for her at times, because there is that little language barrier,” Peters said. “But she’s catching on extremely quickly. The immersion into her new team I think is helping with that.”
Peters has also found a solid keeper in freshman Christina Lacek, who at 5 feet, 2 inches plays bigger than her stature.
“Christina [Lacek] has been doing great. She’s a shot-stopper,” he said. “The ones she can get to, she gets to, and she saves them. She’s been tough. I’ve played her against the guys, and she’s made some big saves. She’s on the shorter side at 5’2”, but she covers the net well.”
Peters returns seven players from last year’s team in Kayla Atkinson and Abbie Hogan of Powell, Brandie Beddes, Drew Groll, Kenadee Jenkins, Shayla Connor and Brooke Seidel. Peters said he’ll look to their sophomore leadership to play an integral part of the team’s success, though he’ll wait until a little later in the season to name captains for the side.
“I kind of try to feel it out, see where each player is fitting in, see who’s taking charge and has those leadership abilities,” he said. “But I have to say, every single one of them that’s back [has] improved quite a bit. Where before we’d have trouble with positioning or their confidence in attacking other players, they’ve pretty much filled those gaps. They’re all strong players — they’re not really lacking anywhere.”
Returning players Peters expects to make a strong impact right from the start include Beddes, a player from Casper who’s looking to expand her role from last season.
“Brandi Beddes has really stepped up. She’s given us a pretty dynamic offensive attack,” the coach said. “She pairs well with Jules [Novakovich]. Both of them have pace and they read off of each other really well. Then you have Genevieve [Sauers], who can distribute to both of them. It creates a pretty good attacking lineup.”
Jenkins, a sophomore from Auburn, has been showing some skill in the net after having been used primarily as a defender last season.
“Kenadee [Jenkins] has been doing really well in goal. She transitioned a little bit, she also plays defensive mid,” Peters said. “So now there’s actually two strong keepers in there battling for a position. It’s been a really good fit.”
Another position battle shaping up is at center back between sophomore Groll and freshman Kailee Ingalls from Sheridan.
“Kailee’s shown good form, she’ll be a capable center back for us,” Peters said. “Her and Drew Groll will fill those roles for us, they tackle hard. They’ve scrimmaged against the guys and held their own, so I’m really excited.”
The Lady Trappers are coming off the team’s first winless season in program history, a fact not lost on Peters as he prepares to make his Region IX coaching debut. Keeping his expectations realistic, Peters said the Lady Trappers will be a fun team to watch this season, though he’s still looking to fill out his opening-day roster with a few more players.
“For the girls’ side, I’m actually really excited, I think we’ll do quite well,” he said. “It’s going to come down to how we meld, and if I can get a couple of more players it would really help, because I could give a little bit of a breather to some of our players, especially when we play multiple games over a weekend.”
Time will tell if this season’s incarnation of the Lady Trappers will be a marked improvement over last season, but Peters can’t help but be optimistic.
“I think we’re setting ourselves up for a good spot, we’ll see where it goes,” he said. “I think we can focus really hard on our conference schedule, look to win a few games and hopefully make it to the playoffs.”