They had to earn it. They had to fight for it. The White Pine soccer team had to do a little bit of everything to take down Pershing County 2-0 on Friday and secure their spot in the state championship tournament.
“That game was the game decider about who goes to state and who doesn’t. It was a great game, both teams played well, but our defense came up big for us,” Ladycat’s soccer coach Tyler Laity said.
Propelled by goals from the team’s leading scorers Sam Gamberg and Tainui Brewster, the Ladycats guaranteed a spot in the State Championship tournament on Nov. 7.
There’s only one problem.
“It’s at Whittell and that is who we have to play first,” Laity said.
White Pine has already faced the first place Whittell Warriors twice this season, and like every other conference team that has played them, they were blown out. It’s a match-up that has caused problems for Laity, who thought he had a solid game plan going into their last game against Whitell. The result? 7-0.
“We are going to go with a different approach and try to box them out,” Laity said. “We will have to play a lot of defense because they seem to be the most offensive team in our league. We are going to work on a couple of things for that game. Hopefully we will be ready.”
One of the things Laity will have to figure out is how to counter Whittell’s aggressive assault on the net. After losing one of his key pieces on offense to injury in practice in Lucy Fullmer, the coach said that goals have been harder to come by. That’s where Gamberg and Brewster come in.
“We have been preparing mentally and physically to get ready for the game. Physically we have been running and working hard to be ready and mentally we have to convince ourselves that we can beat them and put those other games against them in the past,” Brewster said of the team’s preparation for Whittell.
Brewster knows the team will need both her and Gamberg to score in order to advance in the state tournament. It is a unique kind of pressure that doesn’t seem to phase the senior. Instead, both her and Gamberg have begun running extra scoring drills at practice, working on their teamwork together.
To the sophomore Gamberg, the extra time with Brewster has led to a bond of friendship beyond just being teammates.
“We have a special high five that we have developed that is pretty awesome,” Gamberg said of her relationship with Brewster.
The Ladycat’s will have a little relief and practice first, playing their final home game of the season on Thursday against West Wendover at 5 p.m. The game, which will double as the team’s “senior game” will not effect the team’s chances for the State Championship in any way, but Laity said that he still would like to get a win for “pride.”
“You don’t ever want to lose. So we will be playing to win, but at the same time we will have some fun with it. We would love for all of our seniors to score a goal on senior day so we are going to play around with the lineup to see if we can get that to happen,” Laity said.
The Ladycats defeated the West Wendover Wolverines 6-0 in their last meeting on Oct. 6.