Trappers 1, Gillette 0
Sheridan 1, Trappers 0
After Friday’s game against Sheridan was pushed back to Sunday because of weather, the Trappers (3-4-1 overall, 2-3-1 in conference) opened their weekend Saturday with a 1-0 win over Gillette. The win avenged a 3-2 loss to the Pronghorns earlier in the season, giving NWC a series split.
NWC head coach Bobby Peters said he decided to try a switch in formation for last weekend’s games, and it seemed to pay off.
“Because our midfield is playing so well, a lot of teams are trying to send the ball quickly into our backfield and get in behind us early,” Peters explained. “Our midfield is shutting teams down, so teams are trying to bypass it all together. So I switched up our formation a little bit to help counter that, and it helped out a ton this weekend.”
Against Gillette (7-5, 5-2), the Trappers wasted no time in scoring the game-winner, as sophomore forward Jarrett Shrum found the back of the net in the game’s first minute, off an assist by Jonathan Reynoso and Sergio Santamarina. Northwest would go on to score twice more, though both goals were waved off due to offsides penalties.
“We beat Gillette 1-0, but it was actually 3-0,” Peters said. “And the video proves it. Our guys were onsides, clear as day. The calls were just not correct.”
Shrum’s goal was the result of a quick combination play after the forward got into the backfield.
“Sergio [Santamarina] received the ball and played it back to Reynoso,” Peters said. “Reynoso flicked it into the back field and Jarrett [Shrum] ran onto it and tapped it in the corner.”
Both teams’ defenses locked it down after that, though the Trappers continued to generate scoring chances, as evidenced by the two disallowed goals. Peters said the team has matured in its style of play, not letting bad calls by the officials and questionable play by their opponents affect them.
“Our guys are actually stepping up and playing through all the nonsense,” Peters said. “They [the Trappers] are not so focused on them being the victims; they’re focused now on winning. That’s a mentality shift they really needed at this point of the season.”
Since playing Sheridan to a 1-1 tie in early September, the Trappers have consistently improved, winning two of their next three games. In Sunday’s rematch against Sheridan, however, one goal proved to be enough for the Generals, as they held on for a 1-0 win. Sheridan’s Keino Davids had his club’s only shot of the game, but he made it count, beating NWC’s Marcus Olmos for the game-winner in the 12th minute.
“We allowed one shot on goal against Sheridan, and they scored it,” Peters said. “It’s just one of those games where, just like against Gillette, we dominated possession. We controlled the flow of the game.”
Officiating again became an issue, as a play that might have resulted in a penalty kick for the Trappers was ignored. That said, the Trappers’ inability to take advantage of their free kicks continues to be a concern.
“We had enough free kicks to tie up the game and close it out,” Peters said. “We just didn’t capitalize on them. It’s been plaguing us all season, for whatever reason. I have them work on them in practice, but come game time, I don’t know what it is, we just don’t execute on them.”
The Trappers travel to LCCC Saturday for a rematch against the Golden Eagles, winners of a 2-0 slugfest against NWC earlier this season. The first contest featured a combined 11 yellow cards issued for various infractions, and Peters doesn’t expect Saturday’s game to be any less physical.
“I know what their gameplan is, and it’s basically to hack the living daylights out of us,” Peters said. “But our guys aren’t focused on the cheap shots that are coming. I told them they have to play your game, just go in there and get the result. That will show them more than anything. Don’t talk, don’t try to react, just put it on the scoreboard.”
With the season winding down, the next few games will be important in determining seeding for the Region IX tournament, and Peters said his team needs to make a statement now.
“I can see teams we play coming up not wanting to give up much,” Peters said. “Right now, we’re fighting for a third or fourth place. I’m not too concerned about that — as long as we get a victory in one of our last two games, we’ll be in good shape. If we tie or lose, we’re putting ourselves in a bad position.”
The games coming up on Saturday and Wednesday — at home against Western Wyoming — “will be a big test to show us where we’re at and what we’re able to do going forward,” he said.