To the final whistle: CNCC soccer finishes season
Physically, aching muscles were the best-case scenario for the members of the Colorado Northwestern Community College men’s soccer team at the end of their final game Saturday afternoon. For others, the bodily strife was a little worse as they came off the field at Loudy-Simpson Park to get evaluated for injuries.
Mentally, athletes were dealing with more still, as the fact that a full season had gone by without a single goal stayed in the back of their heads.
Still, weary as they were by the final whistle, Spartans huddled around head coach Doug Seigle for the last time this fall as he gave them his critique of the game.
“Guys, I know you’re hurting, but I’m so proud of you,” he said. “You never gave up.”
CNCC’s last soccer match of the season ended on the wrong side of a 5-0 score against College of Southern Nevada as Spartans continued to deal with a diminishing roster in a game that had them down to as few as eight players on the field.
“We started with 11 and had a guy down right away with a possible concussion, another guy having trouble catching his breath and another with an ankle thing,” Seigle said.
Spartans held the Coyotes to a 2-0 first half, though CSN didn’t let up on the CNCC defense with three more goals from there.
A 9-0 loss Oct. 18 in Price, Utah served as Colorado Northwestern’s last road game, facing Utah State University Eastern for the first and only time in Scenic West Athletic Conference play.
“We really let that one get away from us. They scored about four goals in the last 10 minutes,” Seigle said. “We’re all freshmen here, and we still make some rookie mistakes, let things bother us that we’ve gotta fight through.”
While the USU game had Seigle worried how his players were coping, he said they surpassed his expectations with their performance, even short-handed.
“They didn’t complain, we fought for each other, and that’s a step in the right direction, a real positive,” he said. “I know where we’re at, and we don’t have the depth other teams in the conference do, but this was less about wins and losses than playing the right way, giving 100 percent and not giving up. We knew the odds were stacked against us from the beginning being down players, and we can make excuses and have that be the reason, or we can come out and fight.”
As one of the fullbacks staying in stride with Coyote strikers, Wyatt Nielsen was worn out by the end of the day but proud of the effort.
“It’s been difficult, but it’s been a lot of fun, too,” he said. “Everyone has their ups and downs, but we’ve all stuck with it the whole year and we haven’t lost a player.”
SWAC officials determined this week that it would be best for CNCC not to compete in the Region 18 Conference Tournament, both due to the Spartans’ small roster and to expedite the schedule, which will kick off Friday in Herriman, Utah.
With the schedule a week shorter now, Seigle said his goal is to get a jump-start on the next season. Due to his late hiring, he was unable to put much attention on recruiting, and he aims to get 30 players in the program for next year.
“It’s been a tough season, no denying that,” Seigle said. “We’ve made it through the whole season, and we’ve learned from this experience together.”