WNCC soccer teams open pre-season practice with depth
     2012-08-09      By The Gering Citizen   
Courtesy photo - Gering’s Dani Copsey controls the ball during a drill at the Western Nebraska Community College women’s soccer practice Tuesday at the Landers Soccer Complex. 
SCOTTSBLUFF — The Western Nebraska Community College men’s and women’s soccer teams opened up practice Thursday at the Landers Soccer Complex. And after just one day of practice, the players can see plenty of potential in this year’s teams.

Sophomore goalkeeper Bailey Wenz said the women’s team came back in better shape than last season and they are ready for the long three-a-day practices.

“We are all pretty tired right now [after the afternoon session] but we are in better shape than last year,” she said. “Henri (Coach Prieels; made a comment this morning that our tests were 20 times better than last year so we are in better shape.”

Wenz also has noticed that there is plenty of talent on this year’s team which means the women’s team should have plenty of depth.
“The talent is looking pretty good. It doesn’t look like anyone is above each other; we are all at the same level,” she said. “We are really deep defensively so I think our defense will be really strong. But we have the forwards that will go out and just do the work.”

The women return six players from a year ago in Wenz, Laura James, Ari Herrera, Kelsey Newby, Ashly Baker and Breanna Smith. The women’s team also have sophomore transfer Kortney MItchell, who transferred from McPherson College in Kansas.

With six returners and a sophomore transfer, Wenz said the team is well-rounded with a good mix of talented freshmen, including four area newcomers in Scottsbluff’s Megan Patrick, Gering’s Chanice Blanco and Dani Copsey, and Torrington’s Caitlyn Cummings.
With the good mix of players, Wenz said the first day went well and they are looking towards a better season than last year, where they fell one game short of a regional title.

“The first day was good,” the Gillette, Wyo., product said. “We are clicking as a team better than last year and everyone is working hard. We really haven’t set a goal, but the goal for us as a team is to just go out and play our game and just be one team.“
The Cougar men are in the same boat as the women, deep and talented. The men return eight players from a year ago and returner Matt “Tiki” Lee said this team has plenty of talent.

“I think there is a lot of new freshmen and a lot of good returning sophomores. We will have a great team,” the Windsor, Colo., sophomore said. “So far we are looking pretty good. It will take some time to get used to everybody’s touch on the game, but I think if we work hard enough, we will co-exist.”

Lee said that the goal of this year’s team is to go further than a year ago. Last season they team fell in the first round of regionals to Otero on penalty kicks. Lee doesn’t want to see a repeat of that and he doesn’t foresee that happening.

“I am hoping to go farther than last year. I am hoping our goal is to get as far as we can,” he said. “I would like to get past where we got last year and advance further on in the tournament.”
This year’s eight returners include Lee, Gering graduates Joey Rasnic, Cody Thompson and Mason Nab, Jacob Santos, Mark Hubbard, Kyle Gonzales, and Adhimar Lino.
Lee thinks this team is really balanced after the opening practices and can go a long ways.

“I think this team is balanced and we should have a strong defense,” he said. “There are a few international kids from England and Ireland that is looking pretty good on defense. We have a lot of returning talent on offense, so i think it is balanced.”

Both teams will go through three-a-days until classes begin Aug. 15. The two teams have five scrimmages before opening the season the first weekend in September against Pratt Community College and Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kan. The first scrimmage is at home Aug. 11 where the men will scrimmage the Chadron Job Corp while the women will have a Blue/Gold Scrimmage.

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