Ladies finish season on the road

By: 
Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

Having secured a spot at the 3A State Tournament, the Lady Dogie soccer team set out for rematches against Douglas and Riverton last week on the road. A few weeks ago, Newcastle fell to the Lady Bearcats by 1 point in overtime and also dropped the match against the Lady Wolverines by 2. 

On Tuesday, the Lady ‘Cats prevailed 8-1 over head coach Jessie Stearns’ crew, and Riverton bested them 5-0 on Saturday.

“Douglas was rough and I’m not really sure what happened,” Stearns admitted. “We didn’t really play well together and our defense fell apart so much that we played a totally different formation in the second half.”

The Lady ‘Cats got six goals to Newcastle’s one in the first half,
so over the break Stearns reworked field positions to have three players on the back line, five in the midfield, then two forwards for the remainder of the contest. 

That strategy worked better as Douglas was only able to add two more to their total in the remaining 40 minutes of play.

“Making that change did help, and we played much better in the second half,” Stearns reported. “I’m not sure if we were a little more relaxed knowing the outcome of the game didn’t matter regarding whether or not we got to state or what, but they just weren’t playing as hard as they did against them the last time.”

The contest took place on turf, so it was a different playing surface, which causes the ball to travel faster and bounce higher. Newcastle had not played on turf since early in the season, so that took some adjustment as well. 

Alli Olson and Bailey Wright each scored a hat trick for Douglas, which is three goals each, while Newcastle was only able to come up with one.

That goal came as a result of a free kick with six and a half minutes to play in the first half. Gabby McVay lined up from about 25 yards out and sent a high ball over the keeper’s head into the back of the net.

“Douglas had a lot of breakaways which left Angel [Perez] one-on-one against their attack,” Stearns explained. “They have a lot of speed, too, which made it a challenge for our back line.” 

Newcastle got 15 shots off, with nine of those being on frame, so they had their opportunities to score, and Perez ended the contest with 12 saves.

With a couple of days to recover, the Lady Dogies jumped on the bus for the long trip to Riverton on Saturday to finish the regular season against the No. 3-ranked Lady Wolverines, who also enjoy the top seed from the East Conference.

“It was another game that we played on turf, and this time it was hot,” Stearns said. “It was in the 70s and sunny and on the turf, it felt more like the mid-90s.”

There were also four girls who did not make the trip, and Stearns only had three substitutes to give her starters a break.

“I tried to work them into the game as best I could, but there is only so much time that you can give someone a break before the next person needs it,” Stearns said, frowning. “We also decided to play the same formation that we did in the second half of the Douglas game which means more running for those five in the midfield.”

Stearns described the game as a “battle to stay onsides,” as Newcastle forced nine offsides calls on Riverton while committing 11 offsides violations on their offensive end of the field. 

“They were really fast in both their attack and their defensive line,” Stearns acknowledged. “That held up our attack quite a few times.”

Riverton scored their first goal on a well-timed run where they stayed onsides but got past the Lady Dogie defensive line, and the first half ended 1-0 in favor of Riverton. 

Unfortunately, the second half kind of got away from
the Lady Dogies and fatigue and heat may have been
contributing factors. 

“We were really tired and some girls ended up playing the entire game, so I think we ran out of gas a little bit,” Stearns said. “But, we played so much better than we did on Tuesday, and I was really happy, because we were holding our line instead of dropping with them, which helped us force those offsides calls. We were frustrating them that they were getting those calls, because it messed up their runs.” 

Perez ended the game with 26 saves and the Lady Dogies got off 10 shots, with one of those being on goal.

The 3A State Tournament kicks off Thursday in Cheyenne and the Lady Dogies will take the field at
4 p.m. against the No. 1-
seeded Cody Fillies from the West Conference. From there, the schedule will depend on wins/losses, but will wrap up on Saturday.

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