Ladies split big conference games

Sonja Karp, Sports Editor

Photos by Piper Allard

The Lady Dogies stumbled last week in their quest to secure a state berth to the 3A State Soccer Tournament. Two wins against Torrington and Rawlins would have punched their ticket, and they kicked off their week with a 4-0 shutout win over Torrington on Thursday.


However, head coach Cami Willyard’s crew struggled for about 12 minutes in their contest against Rawlins on Saturday, and the Lady Outlaws took advantage of that opportunity to score four goals, going on to take the 4-3 win.


“Unfortunately, if Rawlins beats Torrington on Thursday, they have the advantage over us,” sighed Willyard. “We’re not out of it yet, but it puts a lot of pressure on us for this week, and that loss was a heartbreaker.”


It took a minute for the Lady Dogies to find the back of the net against the Lady Trailblazers on Thursday. According to Willyard, it was not for lack of trying, it was just that shots weren’t quite where they needed to be.


Finally, Torrington committed a handball violation in the box in the 34th minute of play, giving Gabby McVay an open shot on the penalty kick. The senior casually hit it perfectly into the left-side bottom corner.


A minute later, McVay was taken out in the box, so lined up for another PK and she made the Lady ‘Blazers pay for the aggressive action against her, taking her team into the halftime break up, 2-0.


“We were playing okay, but little things needed to be better,” Willyard said. “We were getting shots, but they weren’t finding the back of the net.”


One minute after play resumed, McVay picked up her third goal, earning a hat trick, as she dribbled the ball down the pitch and past the keeper.


Then, with two minutes remaining in the contest, McVay stole the ball from a defender and shot one over the top of the goalie from 30 yards out to lead her team to the 4-0 victory.


On Saturday, the Rawlins Lady Outlaws came to town seeking revenge for their 0-2 loss to Newcastle three weeks ago.


“It was a very frustrating game, but a positive from it is that all three of our goals were assisted, which is good,” Willyard began. “We were better soccer players, but they are athletic and fast, and are catching on very quickly.”


Things started off well when, within the first five minutes, the Lady Dogies earned a corner kick. McVay played the ball over the defense to find MacKenzie Conzelman on the backside, who shot a perfectly aimed header into the back of the net.


“It was awesome! She kept her head down and got a header off of a corner,” Willyard said. “It was our first score off a corner kick all year, and it was cool that two of our seniors worked together on senior night to make that happen.”


Working with momentum they’d created, in the 19th minute fans got to see some great combination play from their Lady Dogies. Hailey Beastrom received the ball out of the air, passed it to McKenzie Rose on the wing who one-touched it to McVay, who then one-touched it into the back of the net from just outside the 18.


“Man, we were playing well!” said Willyard. “We were making connections, we were finding feet, and we finished off the first half really strong.”


Newcastle took the 2-0 lead into the half, just as they had in Rawlins previously. However, in the second half the squad suffered about a 12-minute breakdown where the Lady Outlaws scored four goals — two in the first three minutes, then two more 10 minutes later. Suddenly, Newcastle was down 2-4.


“I don’t know what happened, except that it wasn’t meant to be I guess,” Willyard said, with a sigh. “We weren’t communicating, and the little things came back to haunt us.”


Without the possibility of a time-out, all coaches could do was hope their team could pull themselves together and battle.


“Gabby really stepped up to lead her team,” Willyard said. “I was really proud of her to take that on as our captain and our leader.”


Rawlins continued to dominate for the next 10 minutes of play, but McVay breathed a little life back into her team when she came very close to scoring on a free kick. 


Then, with 16 minutes remaining, Conzelman made a run and passed it off to Leti Ayers who scored the first varsity goal of her career to pull her team to within one of Rawlins.


“Leti was just very composed. She received it across her body, and shot it past the keeper with her left foot,” Willyard described.


Conzelman got the assist for that goal, and overall was the Swiss army knife for her team in the contest. She scored a goal, had an assist and also chalked up a save on the defensive end of the pitch. 


“Mack definitely left it all out on the field,” said Willyard. “It was probably the best game of her career.”


Although the Lady Dogies had a few opportunities in the last five minutes, they were unable to find the back of the net, so they lost the contest, 3-4.


Even though Newcastle didn’t clinch that state tournament berth, they aren’t out of the running yet. This week they rematch Buffalo on Tuesday and Douglas on Thursday, both at home, and they need to pull out a win against one of them to punch their ticket.


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