One Goal Short

By: 
Sonja Karp

Photo courtesty of Summer Bonnar

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Reporter

 

The Dogies headed into their final week of regular season play with the knowledge that they needed to push at least one game to overtime in order to pass Douglas and qualify for the state tournament. However, on Tuesday, Douglas surprised the conference by taking the number one seeded Torrington Trailblazers to OT which then meant Newcastle had to win one game to extend their season an extra week.

Head coach Josh Peterson’s squad battled hard and pushed their contest with Rawlins to OT on Saturday, but time ran out before they could break
the 2-2 tie. As such, the Bearcats held on to the fourth seed and advanced to play in Jackson, while the Dogies ended their season.

“It was so close, and it hurts to lose in the third tie-breaker,” Peterson sighed. “The first tie breaker is head-to-head, second is common opponents, and third is goals scored against. We split the first, we didn’t have any non-conference common opponents, and they had less goals scored against them than we did so that is where we lost.”

The Dogies first matchup of the week was on Tuesday when they were finally able to play the postponed contest against Buffalo. After losing to the Bison 0-4 just four days before, the Dogies were looking to even things up. Unfortunately, it was a tale of two halves regarding Newcastle’s level of play.

“They did score three goals in each half, but in the first, I feel like we outplayed them even though we were down 1-3 at half time,” Peterson declared. “I was feeling pretty confident that we could come back and make it a competitive game, but we didn’t play as well in the second. They got their three goals again and we didn’t really challenge them a whole lot.”

The Dogies’ one goal came as a result of Kyle “Scrappy” Haslam finishing on a penalty kick after Newcastle was fouled in the box.

Peterson attributed part of his squad’s struggles in the second half to the fact that the weather took a turn for the worse.

“It started to rain and one of the things that hurts us is speed, and when the field gets wet the ball plays a lot faster which is to our disadvantage,” he explained. “A lot of their goals happened on fast breaks where their striker simply outran us.”

Friday’s contest was on the road as the team faced off against Torrington. The last time the two teams met, the Blazers ran away with the 10-0 win. This time, although they scored 10 points again, the Dogies were able to get on the board with one of their own.

“This wasn’t the result we were hoping for,” Peterson sighed. “We had a lot of bad luck to start because three of their first four goals came from at least 25 yards out, so there was some distance. They were beautiful shots into the top corners of the goal, and you just can’t do anything about that.”

Torrington scored those first four goals in 15 minutes, and with a game like soccer, it is very difficult to come back from that mentally. The Blazers’ speed was also a problem for the Dogies again.

“They don’t just have one kid who has speed, they have several kids who are fast,” Peterson frowned. “We tried to fight it and we tried to make adjustments, but it’s hard when they have so many weapons.”

Payton Parks put his team on the board after he got a nice cross from Jacob Rhoades which he was able to get a touch on and send into the back of the net about half way through the second half. Bradyn Frye, the Dogies’ goalkeeper, had 15 saves on the day.

“Bradyn played very well,” Peterson nodded. “They had a lot of opportunities, and several were unsavable, so he really did a great job given the pressure he was under.”

On Saturday, the pressure was heavy on the Dogies. They knew they had to win so the squad came out with the determination to make that happen.

“It was a heck of a game and the guys certainly left everything on the field,” Peterson stated. “It was a super even matchup, and it was a hard fought game.”

At the end of the first half, the score was still at 0-0. As the second half resumed, Rawlins was the first to score, although they got a little help from the wind.

“When you’re kicking into the wind, the ball has a tendency to get caught up in it and float,” Peterson began. “They had a shot from quite a ways out but the wind caught it and kind of hung it up and it floated right over Frye’s fingertips.”

The Dogies were able to tie it up, however, on a PK by Scrappy shortly thereafter. Rawlins then moved ahead 2-1 after they scored on a deflection which rebounded and they got a touch on the ball to finish.

Again, the Dogies responded to the pressure after Jacob Rhoades took a shot off a breakaway. It bounced off the post and Scrappy was there to clean it up and tie the game at 2-2. Regulation ended without either team scoring again, so two 10-minute overtime halves were played to try to decide the winner.

“In each half, both teams had some great opportunities but the game ended in a tie,” Peterson stated. “We just missed scoring by inches and the tie meant that the Bearcats would move on instead of us. It’s almost worse than getting blown out, and it was heartbreaking, but at least the boys left it all out there and shouldn’t have regrets.”

As the season came to a close, Peterson reflected back on the year, and on his career as head coach. Not only was this his last game of 2019, but his last as a Dogie given he will be teaching in Laramie next year.

“We had some pretty big ups and some pretty big downs. We started off strong and then had a slump in the middle, but we finished on a positive note because we finished strong. They came back and played a heck of a last game to try to get to state,” he nodded.

“It’s really tough to leave and to hand the program off to whoever takes over,” he admitted. “We’ve come a long way in the seven years I’ve been here and the five years I was head coach. We started with only 10 kids, and now there are 20 some so that’s awesome. I hope the program will continue to build, because there’s a lot of potential and the best years are still ahead for Newcastle Boys Soccer.”

The Dogies will graduate seven seniors in Kyle “Scrappy” Haslam, Jacob Suess, Isiah Covey, Jadyn Reyes, Dalton Phillips, Aaron Fullerton and Talon Logan.

However, according to Peterson there are several younger kids who are ready to step up into the roles that are being vacated. Dayton McFarland and Carson Bock are two to look to for scoring going forward, and others that should do good things for the team are Ezra Anderson, Hayden Overman, Avery Chick and Gavin Gray.

In addition, the team will return some of the top players from this year such as Jacob Rhoades, Payton Parks and Bradyn Frye.

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