Cougar soccer opens in Kansas

The Western Nebraska Community College men's and women's soccer teams are primed to open the season Saturday when they travel to Goodland, Kan., to face Northwest Kansas Technical College on Saturday.

WNCC soccer coach Todd Rasnic said his team is ready to kick the season off.

"I think we are ready to get things going this year," Rasnic said. "We have been fortunate on the women's side in getting some of our key players back in that were out earlier with injuries. We are positive about the prospects for this year. We think we should be very competitive and it will be a good test for us this weekend.

"On the men's side, Northwest is currently undefeated and it will be a good test for the men. The Northwest women look to be much improved over a year ago. I think we are in a battle in both games."

Both Cougar teams are hoping to improve upon last season and so far Rasnic likes what he sees with both teams. The women return eight players from a year ago that managed just two wins all season. The sophomore bunch is laden with defensive stalwarts as well.

Returning to the pitch for their second season include Megan Patrick of Scottsbluff; Dani Copsey and Chanice Blanco of Gering; Anna Rinaldi of Lafeyette, Colo.; Yoana Arellano and Raquel Flores of Aurora, Colo.; Katie Peterson of Loveland, Colo.; and Brianna Baumann of Spearfish, South Dakota.

What Rasnic is hoping for is for a balanced line-up in the different thirds of the field. The women have plenty of talent in the freshmen class. Leading the list is a pair of freshmen goalkeepers in Bailee Dopp of Layton, Utah, and Alice Burgess of Rumford, England. The forward and midfield positions are also solid with newcomers Iris Rascon and Nadia Rodriguez of Commerce City, Colo.; Jordyn Seidel of Ft. Collins, Colo.; Sydnee Edwards of Kaysville, Utah; Corrie McDonald of Liskeard, England; Brooke Satur of Gering; Brittany Scadlock of West Haven, Utah; and Sinahi Garcia of Bayard.

Rasnic expects the women to be stronger than last year if the pieces fall together.

"We are pretty stable throughout the field," he said. "What hurt us early this pre-season is falling back to last year when we didn't have a lot of offense. But that because my two goal-scoring players were out with injuries. So, with them back, we should be firing on all cylinders and hopefully move into a positive direction."

Rasnic does expect this year's team to put up some goals.

"The offense is developing," he said. "This year having players that can move forward and being a positive threat on offensive will give us quite bit a boast in team morale and hopefully result in quite a few more wins."

While the offense is developing the defense should be pretty strong. The biggest hit the women took on defense was the loss of Peterson who went down with an injury. She, however, is expected back for the end of the season.

"We lost a couple players early with injuries and one we won't get back until late," he said. "It will be a challenge and we will have to move some players around and make sure our back line is solidified."

Things look promising for the men as well, except the men's build -up of the team is a little different as WNCC returns just two players with playing experience last season in Tyler Patrick Justin Becerra of Scottsbluff.

Also returning to the team from a year ago after redshirting are Torrington's Donovan Valentine and Scottsbluff's Bernardo Urrea.

With just a handful of returners, Rasnic still expects this team to be improved over last year and that is because of a good group of freshmen coming in.

"Most teams that we have had early in the season have shown lots of potential; it is what they do with that potential that really will result in wins and losses," he said. "We are waiting to see how everything comes together and how the freshmen will respond. We have a great deal of freshmen on the men's team and it is difficult to say how they will respond in NJCAA play. They have the potential to be a good team but potential only gets you so far. You have to build on the potential and continue to improve through the season. So far we have made good strides in that direction and that will result in some victories this year."

The freshmen include Alan Garcia, Jonathan Roman, Alberto Castro, David Hernandez, and Jorge Ramirez of Aurora, Colo.; Tanner Sylvies of Draper, Utah; Mark Campbell and Chris Mordue of England; Carlos Gallegos of Santa Cruz, Boliva; Jarron Rasnic of Gering; Jose Ceron of Denver; Josh Ring of Torrington, Wyo.; Joseph Momoh of Bluffdale, Utah; Guilherme Camargo of Brazil; and Sage Pemberton of Pleasant Grove, Utah.

After this weekend's slate of games – Northwest Kansas on Saturday and Johnson & Wales on Monday – the Cougars will come home for three straight weekends of games. The Cougars home opener will be Friday, Sept. 13 when they host Northwest College followed by a home contest against Sheridan College on Sept. 14.

"I think the teams are ready to be at home," Rasnic said. "They haven't walked on the competition field yet and I think both teams are excited. The freshmen that come in see that nice grass surface that we have at the Landers Soccer Complex and pretty excited for a home debut there. It will be exciting for us to have a long string of home games. It will be good for our local fans to come look at the teams. Hopefully we will be moving well as a team at that time and produce some exciting soccer to watch."

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