When Northwest College’s head women’s soccer coach Bobby Peters was tapped to head up the men’s program for a season after the sudden departure of Stan Rodrigues, he knew he’d have to rely on his returning sophomores to help get him up to speed.
Thankfully for the first-year coach from Missouri, the kids he had coming back for both the Trappers and Lady Trappers were more than up to the task. Peters said his sophomores have been instrumental in helping him hit the ground running, while also being open to bringing a new style and culture to NWC.
“The sophomores that returned, on both the men’s and women’s teams, I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch in my first season,” Peters said. “They’ve made the transition a lot smoother than I could have hoped for.”
Peters called defenseman Kyle Lamb a versatile player who filled numerous roles on the team this season, including that of captain.
“Kyle [Lamb] doesn’t always start, but whenever he does, he brings 110 [percent], even when he’s on the bench,” Peters said. “Overall just a hard-working player. And he understands why he doesn’t start — it’s not because of his play — it’s because of a different dynamic I’m looking to bring in at a given time. ... Kyle will be tough to replace.”
Meanwhile, Edgar Meza, a dynamic defender and team captain from South Dakota, has been a workhorse for the Trappers in his two seasons with the team.
“He [Meza] is a shutdown defender — you put him on a player, and that guy just doesn’t go anywhere,” Peters said. “He just shuts people down and doesn’t give them an inch — he battles every single minute of the game.”
Meza’s partner in crime on the defense this season has been fellow sophomore Marshall Rhoades. Together the two have become the kind of hard-nosed duo Peters said every team should have on their roster. A spot player to begin the season, Rhoades began to find his form, becoming a consistent starter as the schedule wore on.
“I didn’t start Marshall [Rhoades] for quite a few games, because he was inconsistent at first,” Peters said.
“I told him if he started executing, he was going to play, and he grabbed a hold of it and didn’t let go. He came in with a fury, and hasn’t stepped off the field since. He and Edgar [Meza] shut down people.”
Another player Peters said has next-level ability is Jarrett Shrum, and the coach has been excited to see the Gillette native begin to recognize his own potential.
“I told Jarrett [Shrum] he doesn’t have to beat people with speed,” Peters said. “He can beat them with quickness — his change of pace is very good. He has top-end speed, but his quickness is what’s going to kill people.”
In a recent win over Western Wyoming Community College, Shrum “completely dominated that left back side ... and he created 90 percent of our early chances. It was fun to watch.”
Lander’s Daniel Lobera, one of last season’s leading scorers for NWC, has played in the mid and on the wing this season. Peters called him a “hard worker” with a keen mind for the game.
“He’s [Lobera] the type of player that has to know why he’s doing something, or else he gets frustrated,” Peters said. “If you give him a role and let him know what he’s doing and why he’s doing it, he executes it. He’s played really well for us [and] he’s another that can go play at the next level. He’s a very dynamic player who can stretch the defense.”
Carlos Somolinos Bravo has battled injuries all season, but continued to make the most of his time on the pitch. Known as “Charlie” to his teammates, the native of Spain is a player who Peters said “holds together our midfield.”
“Charlie is the glue that holds the midfield together,” Peters said. “He sits in there and holds it when others are able to press forward on the backline. A fantastic player, he’s been one of our more consistent guys all season.”
As the team’s leading scorer, Sergio Santamarina is a player who struggled early to find his role, but once he did the team benefited greatly from it.
“Sergio [Santamarina’s] ability to stretch the defense and recognize the weakness of players is a great attribute,” Peters said. “He plays hard and constantly brings the big goals when we need them. When he plays his role to the best of his ability, he’s fantastic. He’ll be missed.”
Now in net for the Trappers, Marcus Olmos began the season as an assistant coach, coerced into playing after an injury to the team’s projected starter. Olmos has had an amazing season on the field while he continues to work with the keepers on both the men’s and women’s teams.
“All of our keepers are growing because Marcus [Olmos] is helping them find their technique and what they need to work on,” Peters said. “When I called him in to see if he’d be willing to play in net this year, I actually had to sell him on it; I told him I needed him back there because I knew he could play. He came in there and he’s played fantastic. He’s the leader in the backfield, he really takes charge. I love what he’s done this year in all aspects of the game.”
As for the women’s team, “the girls we have as sophomores, there’s a lot of heart in them,” Peters said. “They bought in to a new style of play, they worked extremely hard.”
Of midfielder Brooke Seidel, Peters said her willingness to play multiple positions without complaint was a huge asset to the team.
“With every practice, she [Seidel] improved, she increased her intensity,” he said. In NWC’s last game of the season, “she had a very specific role, and she executed it perfectly,” Peters said. “I was very happy with that.”
Forward Brandie Bedes is a player Peters believes can play at a four-year school. Her talent and athleticism must be accounted for by any team she plays against, according to her coach.
“She [Bedes] doesn’t get beat by girls in the midfield. She controls the play for the most part,” he said. “I wanted her in an attacking position, and with the players around her learning their roles, I was able to put her there, and she’s done very well.”
Calling her a “ferocious defender,” Peters said Powell native Abbie Hogan worked through injuries the entire season, yet never missed a game.
“Abbie is a tough, tough player, yet one of the sweetest girls you’ll ever meet,” he said.
Another player injured all season is fellow Powell native Kayla Atkinson, a mainstay for the Lady Trappers on defense for the past two seasons.
“Kayla has been playing through injuries all year, and has been a workhorse for us,” Peters said. “I moved her back to the sweeper role, and she’s really done well there. She has natural positional sense back there, she knows how to read the plays. She’s been a great attribute in doing whatever it takes to try to get her team a win.”
Defender Shayla Connor has been another workhorse, according to Peters, one who doesn’t ask questions — she just goes out and does her job.
“She’s only played soccer for a couple of years, like Abbie, they really haven’t played for a long period of time,” Peters said. “But they have the heart to work for their teammates and try to get the win.”
Keeper Kenadee Jenkins made the move from defense to goalkeeper out of necessity, but it was a move that paid dividends, according to Peters.
“She [Jenkins] plays with a lot of heart, and she’s competitive,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to have two quality keepers this season, and while Kenadee is a solid field player, I knew with Christina [Lacek] going down, she could step in and not miss a beat. She can play this spot at the next level, she’ll be on the wish list of a few coaches — having a 6-foot goalkeeper that can make the big save.”
Natalia Colicci is an NWC freshman, but she was honored along with the sophomores since her status for next season is still unknown. A late arrival to the Lady Trappers, Peters said her hard work and infectious personality endeared her to her teammates from the start.
“She [Colicci] is kind of the goofball of the group, she’s always talking and goofing around,” he said, laughing. “She brought a lighthearted nature to the team, but she’s a fighter. I don’t know if she’ll be back, she’s undecided. But she’s a good addition to the team — she really brought up the level and allowed us to make some changes at the right time.”