The Western Nebraska Community College men’s and women’s soccer teams are ready for the semifinals of the Region IX tournament with hopes of bringing home a regional title this weekend.
Both teams earned a berth in the semis, which will be played this weekend at Metro State University in Denver, with impressive first-round wins last weekend.
The Cougar women earned a 1-0 win over Northeastern Junior College in the first round and now will play Gillette College at 2 p.m. The other women’s semifinal pits Laramie County Community College against Sheridan College at 11:30 a.m. The winners will meet for the Region IX title on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 3 p.m.
The Cougar men earned a berth in the semifinals with a 2-1 overtime win over Trinidad State Junior College last weekend on the road. That win extended the Cougars season another weekend and they will play top-seeded Laramie County Community Saturday in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. The other semifinal pits Northeastern Junior College against Otero Junior College at 7 p.m. The winners advance to the Region IX championship game Sunday at 5:30 p.m.
The goal for the Cougar teams is to win regionals to have a chance to host the district finals against the winner of the Iowa regional next weekend.
For the Cougar men, they also have a chance to tie the school record for most wins in a season if they can come away with a regional title. WNCC enters the semifinals with a 10-6 record. The record for most wins in a season is 12, which happened twice in 2003 and 2017.
WNCC sophomore Daniel Matty said the men’s team is ready to go.
“The team is going to have to come together more than we have before,” the sophomore defender said. “We will have to sacrifice everything for each other and make sure we win every battle.”
The contest won’t be easy against the defending Region IX champs. The two squads met earlier this season with LCCC earning a 6-0 win at Landers Soccer Complex.
“We know that they are a talented bunch. They work hard and play well as a unit,” Matty said. “We do know how to stop them and get revenge; we just have to execute it.”
The WNCC men will have to play much like they did in the first-round overtime win at NJC, where the defense really stepped up. It was an overtime goal by Omar Sissoko that lifted the Cougars to the win.
“It [last week’s win] was a huge win,” he said. “They beat us 3-1 the last time we played them this season, which in my opinion, was a bad day in the office. So, to beat them in the playoff was nice.”
The Cougar women will also face a challenge on Saturday against a Gillette team that defeated the Cougars 3-1 in late September. That contest saw WNCC take a 1-0 halftime lead on a goal by Destiny Mueller. Gillette, however, came back to score three times in the second half for the win.
The Cougars enter the semifinals with a 13-3 record, which is the second most wins in the history of the women’s soccer program at the college. Gillette is 14-2 on the season with their only losses coming to NJCAA No. 4-ranked LCCC 4-1 and Utah State-Eastern 1-0 in the first game of the season.
The last time the Cougar women won a regional title was back in 2008 when they defeated Western Wyoming Community College 3-0 in the semifinals before taking down LCCC 3-1 in the finals. That was the team’s second Region IX title, the first coming in 2003.