ROCK SPRINGS – With preseason scrimmages finished up, the Western Wyoming Community College Men’s and Women’s Soccer teams will start the season on Thursday at home.
Mustang soccer will open the 2016-2017 season against Northeastern Junior College from Sterling, Colo. The ladies get underway at 2;30 p.m. with the men starting at 5 p.m. Both games are at Crossroads Park and are free to the public. It is a “Black-Out” game so fans are encouraged to flood the stands wearing black attire.
Northeastern comes from the south conference, so it is not a conference battle for the Mustangs. WWCC Head Coach Jeff Atkinson is not quite to sure what to expect in Thursday’s battles. Normally a patient team, Northeastern had a change at the head coaching position picking up a member of the coaching staff at four-year school, Central Michigan. Atkinson said with the changes he expects Northeastern to come out on the attack and be more aggressive.
Even with the uncertainty of what Northeastern will bring to the pitch, Atkinson said both Mustang teams need to focus on what they bring to the field.
“I am hoping we get out there and get after it,” Atkinson said.
Both the men and women have been on the field for most of the month involved in several pre-season scrimmages. They started in Utah at Salt Lake Community College. Atkinson said the SLCC teams are good and moving up quickly, so it was a good way to open play.
These early games can be played in several formats and due to the number of players SLCC had, they were split into periods. Atkinson explained these early scrimmages help build team chemistry and shake off the rust. He said from the beginning of the SLCC scrimmages to the end, the team showed noticeable growth. Both teams lost by the final of 4-0.
From there it was off to Las Vegas for a battle with Southern Nevada. The ladies suffered a little bad luck at the end costing them the match. With one minute left, a miscommunication and funny bounce led to the Southern Nevada 2-1 win.
The men also fought a tough battle in the desert. With 10 minutes to go, Southern Nevada scored on what Atkinson called “a heck of a shot.” Down but not out, the Mustangs responded and with 40 seconds left would rebound a miss and even the game at one. That is how it would end. Atkinson said it was great to see the team hang in there and battle until the very end.
In the final scrimmages, the teams would head to Oregon. First up would be Treasurer Valley. It would not be a good first half for the ladies of WWCC as they would give up three early goals. Atkinson said the ladies identified the problems, made the adjustments and came out a different team in the second. They would score twice and had all the momentum.
They would score twice and had all the momentum. Atkinson said just as it looked like the Western ladies would make a final push, they ran out of gas. Treasurer Valley scored three goals in the final minutes to take the 6-2 win. Again, Atkinson said these are things you see and expect in the early scrimmages as players get used to the change of speed between the high school and college level.
On the men’s side, Atkinson said it was the best game they had in the preseason. Despite losing 2-1, the Mustangs had shot after shot. Atkinson said the Mustangs were able to break down the defense but just could not find the back of the net.
The following day the teams headed to Pendleton. For the ladies, they put it all together. They scored eight goals on 40 shots. Atkinson said he cannot remember a Western team taking that many shots on goal before. For the men, they did not follow up their strong performance the day before. Atkinson said they came out flat and just were not able to create a lot of chances. The coach was happy that the Mustangs were able to limit the opponents opportunities but hoped for more.