Ladies are conference champs!

By: 
Sonja Karp

Photo by Kristi Lipp

Emily Beastrom is one of the Lady Dogies’ awesome back line defenders. In the final, and most emotional goal of the game, she began the play progression which culminated in Hailey Wehri scoring her first goal of the season.

 

Sonja Karp

NLJ Sports Reporter

 

The Lady Dogies have been enjoying a Cinderella season this year, and closed out their regular schedule claiming their ninth consecutive shutout of the year with their 6-0 win over the Lady Bearcats in Douglas on Saturday. The victory garnered them the glass slipper of the No. 1 seed in the 3A East Conference as they maintained their one-point advantage over the Buffalo Lady Bison.

“Douglas has definitely improved, so credit to their program,” began head coach Cami Willyard. “We did a lot of good things, but we started a little slow. We weren’t winning every ball, we were trying to do too much and were not playing to feet. I just felt like they had the energy.”

Despite not playing quite up to snuff, the Lady Dogies had put four points on the board by the end of the first half of play.

Newcastle found the back of the net six minutes into the contest when Claire Beastrom gave a through ball to MacKenzie Conzelman who finished with her left foot in the low corner. It would be another 17 minutes before the next ball made its way past the Lady ‘Cats keeper when Gabby McVay got things going again by stealing the ball and maneuvering through a couple of defenders to finish, also in the low corner. 

“We were finding the back of the net, but there was just a lot of standing and we were not playing our 100% all-in game,” Willyard said. “I was happy that we were able to get on the board, but it could have been better.”

Nine minutes later Alaina Laurence showed off her skills as she booted one in from about 25 yards out. It was a cleared ball from the Lady ‘Cats, which she received, touched to her left, then finished up high.

The Lady Dogies got one more in with 1:40 to play in the first half. McVay again stole the ball and dribbled through defenders to finish in the high corner.

The Lady Dogies went into the half up 4-0, but Willyard admitted that they weren’t satisfied with what was happening on the pitch.

“Obviously we were finishing better, and we were scoring,” she began. “But we weren’t possessing like we wanted, our energy wasn’t there, we weren’t winning balls out of the air and we were doing a lot of standing and not finding feet. It was a decent half but it wasn’t what we wanted to see going into state.”

During the break Willyard was able to get her squad focused on coming out and playing like they could and should in the second half. Although Newcastle only put two more points on the board, Willyard insisted that the play was much more indicative of her team’s capabilities.

“In the second half, we played beautifully and it was fun to watch. We pretty much had the ball on the offensive half of the field for the entire 40 minutes,” Willyard said. “Douglas went the whole contest without a shot on goal and [goalkeeper] Angel [Perez] only touched the ball about two times during the entire game.” 

It wouldn’t be until 15 minutes into the second frame before the Lady Dogies would find the back of the net again. Laurence had a throw-in to Conzelman in the box and she cut back and shot again with her left to find the low corner.

“My two forwards [Conzelman and McVay] found their finishing touches, which was nice heading into the post-season play,” Willyard said.

The goal of the season was fittingly the final goal of the game for the Lady Dogies. Senior Hailey Wehri, who was a key member of the defensive line coming into the season, suffered a torn ACL in the first contest of 2021 so has been sidelined for most of the year. However, she was able to get into the contest on Saturday and it paid off for her and the team.

The goal began as the team played the ball out of the back line which had once again done a phenomenal job of keeping Douglas from scoring. Emily Beastrom started things off by playing it to Alaina Steveson who then found Caitlyn Pehringer. From there, it went to Laurence, back to Pehringer, then she sent it over the top to Wehri who took a couple of touches and found the back of the net with about 20 minutes left to play.

“This goal was just awesome to watch from the start with all of the girls involved,” Willyard said. “There were tears all around when it happened. It was just a very cool moment and so deserving based on her effort and dedication. It was an awesome way to end the regular season.”

With the win, the Lady Dogies end this historical season as the No. 1 seed in the 3A East Conference, having scored 40 goals throughout while only being scored on seven times. Those goals happened in the first two contests of the season, so since April 9 they have not let a ball get past them. This is also the first time in Dogie history that the season ended with a positive goal differential and it’s going to be a tough one to improve upon.

“It’s been an amazing season so far, but we are far from satisfied,” Willyard cautioned. “We beat Buffalo for the first seed by only one point and the west side is tough, so we are going to have to bring our A-game this weekend.” 

As the No. 1 seed, the Lady Dogies will kick off the tournament by taking on the No. 4-seeded Mountain View Lady Wranglers at 4 p.m. on Thursday at Cheyenne South. 

“Looking at their stats, it looks like they have three main offensive threats where ours is a little spread out. I think those are two fast forwards and a midfielder,” Willyard determined. “They also haven’t given up a ton of goals, so I’m sure they have a pretty good defensive line as well. We know they are tough and we are not overlooking them by any stretch of the imagination.” 

A send-off for the team is planned for 8:30 on Thursday morning from the bus loop at Newcastle Middle School. The team will also cruise through the Newcastle Elementary School bus loop on their way out of town.

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