By Coach Tylar Laity
Last weekend marked the first Jason Nelson Memorial soccer tournament, and it was a memorable one. Both the boys and girls soccer teams from WPHS competed against teams from around the state.
The tournament kicked off with the Ladycats and Battle Mountain, a foe that showed great respect and sportsmanship and allowed WP to wear their green Live Like Jason shirts as jerseys, which all had the number 17 on back. The Ladycats played with Jason in their hearts and on their minds and started off the tournament with a big win in this game 1-7, which had some coincidence to the memorable weekend. After a short break the girls were back on the field for their second game of the day against Spring Creek.
“We got off to a slow start in the first half, not really controlling possession and passing the ball, instead we were just kicking the ball and hoping for the best,” said Ladycat coach Tylar Laity. “After a little talk at half, I was proud of the way we adjusted and finished in the second half.”
The game ended at 4-0 and marked the girls fifth straight victory, which tied a previous record. There still was one more game left on Friday for WP against West Wendover.
“We really wanted to win this game,” said Senior forward Sam Gamberg. “Last year they beat us in the tournament and we had something to prove this time.”
The Ladycats struck within the first 15 minutes and then quickly again. When the final whistle blew, the girls had chalked up another win, this time 5-0.
“To play three games in one day is tough, but to dominate three games and have two shutouts is even tougher,’ said Laity. “The girls were playing with a lot of heart today.”
The Ladycats started up Saturday with a morning matchup against Pershing County, who they beat 3-0. After struggling in the first half to finish many offensive chances, the Ladycats struck in the second half two times and finished off another shutout. This game was the last of the round robin play and meant the girls would finish off the tournament with a 3:30 championship game against the number two seed Battle Mountain.
“It was good to make it back to the big game after a disappointing finish last year,” said senior defender Delany Marich.
The Ladycats were not going to settle for anything but the championship this year and proved they were the team to beat with a 6-0 victory in the title game.
“We had quite the weekend,” said senior defender Alicia Pascascio. “We had four shutouts in five games and only allowed one goal total. Our offense killed it with 25 goals the past two days and hopefully we can carry this momentum into conference play.”
The girls finished the tournament with a prayer circle in honor of Jason Nelson with both teams from WP and Battle Mountain participating.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the way the girls played and carried themselves this weekend,” said Laity. “They defiantly played with their all for friend and teammate they all miss greatly.”
The Ladycats are off to their best start in program history at 8-0 and a total of 36 goals scored and only two scored against. Senior Sam Gamberg lead the scoring parade this weekend with a total of 12 goals, three hat tricks, and five assists. Fellow captain, junior midfielder Lily Fullmer had 9 goals and six assists.
“Those two were on a whole other level this weekend,” Laity said. “They combined for 21 of our 25 goals and had assists in most of the other goals scored.”
Freshman Sage Dutson scored two goals and had three assists. Joining her in another good freshman weekend were Maren Barney with one goal and assist and Zoe Beckley with two assists. Others to contribute in on the offense were juniors Shawn Petersen and goalkeeper Hannah Barber with an assist each and sophomore Trace Deeds with a goal.
Both the Ladycat and Bobcat soccer teams will open conference play this weekend with a game against new 3A conference opponent Fernley on Saturday on their turf.