A disappointing end for the ladies

Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor
After holding on to the No. 4 seed throughout the season, the Lady Dogie soccer team had their post-season hopes dashed last week as they fell to Buffalo and Douglas in the last of their regular season contests.
The losses, in combination with a Rawlins win against Torrington, allowed Rawlins’ Lady Outlaws to edge out head coach Cami Willyard’s squad by just one point.
“It was a tough week,” Willyard said. “We played so much better against Buffalo on Tuesday than we did against them up there, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Willyard and crew made some changes to their game on Tuesday, reverting back to the 4-5-1 scheme, moving Hailey Beastrom and MacKenzie Conzelman to the center defensive mid, Gabby McVay to the center attacking mid, and McKenzie Rose to forward.
Buffalo adjusted quickly to Newcastle’s new look and got on the board in the eighth minute of play. 
After that initial goal, despite the fact that Buffalo possessed the ball for a good portion of the time, Newcastle held the Lady Bison out of the goal to go into the half down only 1-0.
“We definitely had some runs and we had some opportunities, which was much better than it was up there,” Willyard insisted. “We were feeling pretty good at half-time and we felt like we had a shot at it.”
Unfortunately, right after the half, the Lady Dogies gave up a goal off a corner kick with only two minutes ticked off the clock.
Then, in the 46th minute, the Bison were able to make good on a free kick to extend their lead to 3-0. They got their fourth goal in the 54th minute, taking advantage of another corner kick.
“After their fourth goal, I saw something pretty cool that I hadn’t seen before. Our senior captains brought everyone into the middle to regroup. I thought that was awesome, especially for a team who wasn’t expected to win, and was down 4-0,” Willyard said. “They still had the heart to try to rally the troops and try to do better, so it’s a testament to our leaders for sure.”
Finally, in the 58th minute, the Lady Dogies were able to get on the board when they made good on a corner kick. Hailey Beastrom found the back of the net off the kick by Gabby McVay, who notched an assist on the play.
According to Willyard, the Lady Dogies were running out of steam at that point against a pretty good team.
In the 68th minute, Buffalo sealed the deal with yet another goal to go up 5-1. With 1:25 to play, McVay stole the ball off a Bison throw-in and made a crazy, out of the air shot just above the keeper’s hands, improving the score to 2-5 to end the game.
“With about five minutes left, I looked at one of our coaches and lamented that this is the only team that Gabby hasn’t scored against,” Willyard said. “And then two minutes later, she gets it done with a really spectacular goal.”
“Overall, it was a much better game,” Willyard continued. “We gave up maybe 18 shots to them and we had six shots versus giving up 22 and only getting one last time.” 
After the loss, the Lady Dogies were down to one lifeline and Willyard admitted that they knew it would be tough to punch their ticket to the state finals. Woefully, Douglas’ Lady Bearcats were too solid right from the start of the contest. 
“In the first five minutes of the game, they had a few bad touches, so I was thinking we were playing pretty well against the third best team in the state,” Willyard described. “But then they pulled themselves together and proceeded to definitely look like the third best team in the state.” 
The Lady ‘Cats certainly showed what they are made of, as they scored in the 7th, the 9th, the 20th and 23rd minutes of the game from a variety of opportunities.
“They outworked us and they beat us to every ball,” admitted Willyard. “They were more athletic, they were fast, and in that moment, they were the ones who wanted the ball most.”
It was looking pretty hopeless, but then Willyard moved McVay up to the forward position. With pure hustle, she ran down a long ball, beating a Douglas defender, and took a touch around the keeper and finished, despite having a crazy angle. The goal gave Newcastle one point to Douglas’ four at the end of the first half. 
“We knew it wasn’t very probable that we could come back against a team like Douglas, but there was always a chance,” Willyard said. “We wanted to end our season playing our best and making them work for the win.”
As the second half got under way, the monkey that was on the Lady Dogies’ back in the last three games reared its ugly head, and a minute and a half off the clock, the Lady ‘Cats scored their fifth goal. They then got their sixth goal in the 45th and their 7th in the 61st minute to take the 7-1 victory over Newcastle.
“I felt so bad for those seniors, because it was really tough for all five of those guys,” Willyard said. “We let the underclassmen know they have big shoes to fill.”
McVay, Conzelman, Mia Peterson, Kyah Miller and Emilie Jenssen played their final game as Dogies on Thursday. Willyard expects to have six or seven incoming freshmen who will be coming off of a pretty successful middle school season, so is looking to rebuild next year.


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