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A ‘completely different game’

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Photo by Walter Sprague/NLJ Hailey Beastrom looks on as Ruth Rose prepares to clear the ball away from the Lady Bison’s offensive attack Friday at Schoonmaker Field.
Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

The Lady Dogie soccer team finished up their season last week with contests in Douglas on Tuesday and at home against Buffalo on Friday. Although head coach Cami Willyard’s crew played hard, they couldn’t get past the Lady Bearcats or the Lady Bison, dropping both games by scores of 0-6.

“It was crazy weather, with terrible wind in the first half of the game in Douglas. We got the wind in the first half and I think we played really well,” Willyard said. “We rose to the challenge of Douglas all season long, and all three times we’ve played them we played really well. Douglas is my dark horse and I think they are going to win it all.”

The Lady Dogies played hard against the Lady ‘Cats and held them out of the goal for the first 26 minutes of the contest, then fought hard on defense until they gave up two more with five minutes remaining in the first half.

However, Newcastle held the Lady ‘Cats to only eight shots on goal in the first 40 minutes of the game, going into half-time down 0-3. The wind started to die down at mid game mark, which made the second half a little easier for both teams.

“Douglas had the wind at their backs in the second half, and they used it to their advantage,” Willyard said. “Christine [Swentesky] had 18 of her 23 saves in the last 40 minutes.”

Sisters Sage and Emi Lichtenberger helped Swentesky out by making one save apiece as well.

“Christine and our defense did a fantastic job limiting Douglas to just three goals in the second,” Willyard said. “I felt like we just played really well. We had a few opportunities, and we were able to make some pretty decent attacks against a really good team.”

Friday, it was senior night and the Lady Dogies knew it was their last game of the season. The last time Buffalo and Newcastle met, Willyard’s squad held a 1-0 lead at half-time, then ended up losing a close 1-2 match by the end. This time, however, the Lady Bison were playing with a full roster and returned a player who was a difference maker for the team.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Willyard said. “Their best player was out the first time we played them, but she was back on Friday — and boy did she stand out!”

The Lady Dogies found themselves down 0-4 by the end of the first half, and the first three Bison goals were scored by that player.

“It was a completely different game this time,” Willyard said. “It’s amazing how one player can change the game that much.”

The first of her goals found its way into the back of the net in the eighth minute, the second came in the 16th minute of the contest, while her third got past Swentesky in the 31st minute. Buffalo scored the fourth goal of the half with four minutes remaining on the clock.

The accuracy of the Lady Bison couldn’t be denied, given that the Lady Dogies only allowed them eight shots on goal in the first 40 minutes of play, but four of those were right on the money for Buffalo.

“I know that they out-played us, but they also made good on the few opportunities they had,” Willyard said. “It was kind of tough going into the half down 0-4, so we just kind of turned our attention to working on some things that we might want to do next year in the second half.”

Willyard moved some players around on the defensive end of the pitch, trying out some players in different positions. The experiment worked pretty well for Newcastle, as they only gave up three shots and two goals, one of which was a penalty kick, in the second half.

“It was great to see the girls respond and adjust like that in the second half,” Willyard said. “Buffalo did back off a little bit, but the girls still played well.”

With the loss, the Lady Dogies’ season came to a close, and with that, Willyard will lose nine of her players to graduation.

“It was really cool when I went back and was looking at all the senior stuff. When they were freshmen we started with six, and we graduated nine on senior night,” she said. “You hardly ever hear about growing more players from freshmen year to senior year, so that just says so much about that group of kids.”

“What an awesome group they are, and I had so much fun with them,” she continued. “All of them, at some point, took on a leadership role, and we are going to miss the heck out of them. They are going to leave some pretty big shoes to fill.”

Willyard is looking at bringing up only three eighth-graders next season, but is hoping to pick up other players who have played soccer in the past to help fill her roster.

“There were definitely some highs and lows, but I really enjoyed the season,” Willyard said. “I’m really excited about some of the young ones who made a lot of progress throughout the year. We will be young next season, so there will be more building that needs to happen but I’m excited for it!”


Photo by Walter Sprague/NLJ

Hailey Beastrom looks on as Ruth Rose prepares to clear the ball away from the Lady Bison’s offensive attack Friday at Schoonmaker Field.

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