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Dogies battle the Warriors

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Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

Following a disappointing loss to Buffalo the week before, the Newcastle High School Dogie soccer team rallied to battle against the No. 2-ranked Warriors Friday in Worland. Head coach Sally Hoover was delighted with the defensive effort her team showed in their 1-4 loss.

“We played really well, and the score doesn’t tell the story of how close the game really was,” Hoover insisted. “We were playing without any subs, so it came down to the fact that we just kind of ran out of gas.”

The Dogies started the contest with one substitute, due to illness and other issues, however, just 10 seconds into the contest Gabe Hoover injured himself as he was trying to win a ball so was sidelined for the rest of the competition. As such, 11 Dogies were all in for the remaining 80 minutes of play.

“Worland does a nice job of winning balls and they attack pretty hard,” Hoover said. “We ended up having to play pretty defensively in the second half, and we just couldn’t produce much on offense.”

The goal of the Dogies was to not get scored on in the first five minutes of the game, given that has been an issue for the team lately. According to Hoover, her squad played hard, communicated really well, and played great defense.

“When we got past that mark, everyone kind of breathed a sigh of relief,” Hoover said. “The boys did a really nice job of talking and covering and just playing really well despite having to switch some things up due to personnel changes that we had to make.”

The Warriors were able to slip one through the defense and find the back of the net with about 15 minutes to play in the first half to go up, 1-0.

Worland celebrated their goal and were slow to recover, so when the official called for the Dogies to kick, Colter Christensen sent a ball to Jacob Abu Zhara who kicked it and it went in the goal to tie the game at 1-1.

“The goalie wasn’t even inside the 18 yet when Jacob made the kick,” Hoover said, grinning. “I almost didn’t even see it! It was awesome that we were able to tie the game 10 seconds after Worland scored their goal!”

The Dogies went into half-time with the score still knotted up at 1-1, and Hoover noted that the focus of the mid-game break was to make sure the team didn’t come out flat, and that they would have to play through some pain given there were no subs.

For half of the remaining 40 minutes of the contest, the Dogies continued to play great defense. With 21 minutes on the clock, Worland was able to capitalize on a good opportunity to go up 2-1. Two minutes later, Will Beastrom made a save but the ball slipped out of his hands and a Warrior was there to follow the initial shot to go up 3-1.

“It was a little disappointing that we didn’t follow that kid into the box to be there to cover if it was needed,” Hoover admitted. “We had talked about that very situation, but it may have been that they were just out of gas by then.”

It was a rough three minutes, but the Dogies dug deep to hold the Warriors out of the goal until a questionable penalty kick was awarded to Worland who capitalized to extend their lead to 4-1.

For the remaining nearly 18 minutes, the Dogies defended their goal and did not allow the Warriors to add to their score.

Beastrom would end the day with 10 saves, Abu Zhara got seven shots on goal while Caden Esposito went 0-1 on shots on goal.

“Even though the guys were tired, they played really hard on defense at the end of the game,” Hoover said. “That is huge for us because it can be really like us to give up more goals in situations like that.”

As the Dogies enter into their second time through conference play, getting wins where they should is going to be imperative in order for Newcastle to secure a playoff berth. On Thursday, the squad will head to Torrington for a rematch against the No. 1-ranked Trailblazers, then will host the Outlaws of Rawlins on Saturday with kickoff scheduled for 2 p.m.

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