Dogies prepare to kick off season

Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

While Mother Nature may be trying her best to pull the wool over our eyes, spring is just around the corner and spring sports have begun. The Dogie men are getting up to speed to hit the pitch to kick off their 2023 soccer season this weekend, and head coach Sally Hoover is excited to get her admittedly small, but mighty team ready to take on their competition.

“We only have 16 out this season, so our numbers are small,” Hoover admitted. “But everyone is getting along and having fun, and they are showing up every day wanting to get better so that is great.”

Hoover is in her fourth year of coaching the boys team and her first as head coach. In addition, she is running the program solo as the search for an assistant coach has yielded no takers so she is hoping that someone will heed the call and join the team soon. 

Due to inclement weather and wet field conditions, the Dogies spent their first week of practice in the gym, but Hoover and her crew did their best to take advantage of the situation.

“We were a bit limited in what we could do, but we did what we could, so I think it went pretty well,” Hoover nodded. “At the end of the first day, when the guys said the best thing about the day was that they had chemistry, I thought that was a great way to start the season.”

The Dogies graduated seven last season and gained only one freshman as well as a foreign exchange student this year, but they are bringing back four starters as well as a few others with varsity experience.

Dylan McFarlin, Zach Orsborn, Cole Wehri and Caleb Hoover are returning starters this year, while the other returning varsity players include William Beastrom, Yestin Davis and Colter Christiansen. New to the team this season is Dutch foreign exchange student Finn Gerlag who brings quite a bit of talent to the pitch for Newcastle. 

“Finn is a phenomenal player and has some of the best skills I’ve seen. He is also a really good team player which is awesome,” Hoover smiled. “He will probably be in the midfield. Though he likes to play defensive mid, I’ll probably play him center attacking mid because he has a great leg.”

The Dogies will be getting out on the field for practice this week as long as the weather holds, so Hoover and her squad will have the opportunity to get a better look at their game plan for their opening contest this weekend.

Hoover plans on running a 4-1-3-2 scheme this weekend due to it being the formation the boys ran last season so they are familiar with the requirements of each position.

“We’re going to start that way and ses how it goes,” Hoover began. “We’ll have four on defense, one sweeper, three in the midfield and two strikers.”

Hoover plans to put 6’8” Beastrom in the goal to start the season, while Orsborn and Wehri will return as two of the four defenders. She anticipates starting Davis and Caden Esposito as the other two defenders as well.

The defensive midfielder in the sweeper position will be Skyler Cummings, Gerlag will be the center attacking midfielder while Christiansen and McFarlin will play on the wings. Finally, Caleb Hoover and Caleb Hossfeld will start at striker.

With the small numbers, Hoover noted that it will be super important to keep everyone healthy. Unfortunately, the squad will not be playing any JV games this year because they are so small, which is disappointing for skill building with some of those younger kids on the team. 

Looking around the conference, Hoover anticipates that Worland and Buffalo will be tough. “Torrington and Douglas each have a couple of good players, but if we can mitigate that, we should be okay,” she predicted. “I’m not sure how Rawlins will be as they are a little down this year, but if the kids can stay healthy, I think we can hang with anyone. They are going to have to work hard, but if they show up everyday with the attitude they have had so far, I think good things will happen.”

The Dogies are scheduled to play Kelly Walsh in their opening contest this Friday in Gillette, however, Hoover is hoping to move the game to Saturday, rather than Friday as she will be missing three of her kids, two of which are starters, who will be at State FBLA from Wednesday through Friday.


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