The Western Nebraska Community College men’s and women’s soccer teams will have their home openers this weekend when Snow College and Northeast Community College out of Norfolk come to Scottsbluff.
WNCC and Snow will battle Friday beginning at 3 p.m. for the women’s contest and 5 p.m. for the men’s match. The two Nebraska schools will follow on Saturday beginning at noon for the women and 2 p.m. for the men’s contest. The matches are played at the Landers Soccer Complex in Scottsbluff.
The Cougar men are off to a strong start after winning matches on the road last weekend at 2-0. WNCC will face a Snow College team that received votes in the NJCAA pre=season polls. It will be the Badgers season-opener when they face WNCC on Friday. The Northeast men enter the contest at 0-2 after play last week.
The Cougar men are 2-0 on the season after two come-from-behind wins over the weekend. WNCC beat Gillette 3-2 and then topped Northwest College 6-3. In the Northwest contest, WNCC sophomore Lawan Abary scored four goals.
WNCC coach Todd Rasnic said he remains cautious about the early season success, saying they still need to get better.
“We are looking OK,” Rasnic said. “Again, we have be cautious of what we say about the games because in both games last week we had to work our way back from deficits. We have to quite giving away the early goals. In the Northwest game we were down 3-2 at halftime, giving up three goals in the first half of the match. To be a consistently winning team, we cannot put ourselves in a position where we are playing catchup. We had a lot of discussion about that this week and the overall intensity level of the group when we start games.”
These two games this weekend are huge for the team as they prepare for the Region IX South conference schedule next week. Rasnic wants his team to continue improving.
“The women’s team from Snow is ranked 17th and the men’s team was mentioned in the polls, so if we can pick up a couple wins it will go a long way in building the confidence of the group,” Rasnic said. “Again it still is a work in progress but we will have to see as we take some steps here and continue improving as the season goes along.”
The women’s home openers will be a test. The Snow women are pre-season ranked 17th in the nation and have a roster of 26 players. WNCC is low on numbers with just 13 girls currently on the roster. Still, the Cougar women are 1-1 on the season after splitting contests against Gillette and Northwest last weekend.
Rasnic said the Northwest win was a good win for his women’s team, but realized it won’t be an easy task this weekend.
“I think we are ready to go,’ WNCC coach Todd Rasnic said. “On the women’s side we are starting to get some of our little tweaks figured out. We still have a little ways to go. I think we are in a better position to compete well and the organization is coming together well. We are playing a tough opponent and with limited substitutions on the women’s side I am cautiously optimistic that we can compete. We certainly have to play one of our better games against a nationally ranked opponent. But I think we have the ability to stay in the contest.”
The Cougar women opened the season with a loss to Gillette 2-0 last Friday. The team then turned around and picked up a big win against Northwest College on Saturday 3-1 behind two goals from Courtney Nelson.
“Obviously winning is the expectation for me as a head coach no matter what our numbers look like and the women demonstrated a lot of character in the win,” Rasnic said. “They went into Gillette and figured out a lot of things such as their organization was a bit shaky and then came back on Saturday and put things together and got their offense going. That was a testament of the overall character of the ladies that we have playing.”
While it will be Snow’s first regular season games, the Northeast women are 2-1 after topping Barton 2-0 and Trinidad State 4-2. The Hawks only defeat was to Hutchinson 3-0.
After this weekend, the Cougars will be back at home Sept 8 and 9 when they face Otero Junior College and Trinidad State Junior College in Region IX South conference games.
Saturday’s women’s match against Northeast Community College will be a reunion for Northeast player Katie Martindale, who is a sophomore for the Hawks. Martindale graduated from Gering in 2016.