After Monday’s tough losses to Grand Island Northwest and Lexington, Gering boys soccer coach Justin Clark was clear when he told his team to put the losses behind them and look forward to Tuesday’s contest with Cheyenne East.
The Bulldogs did just that.
Gering exploded for two second-half goals to notch a 3-1 victory over Wyoming’s 4A East Region-leading Thunderbirds on Tuesday night at Memorial Stadium in Gering.
“Every game, every day it’s a new day, it’s a new game, so we’ve got to be ready to go and that’s one of the focuses we’ve had all year,” Clark said. “I just loved the effort the kids gave tonight. They played as hard as they could the whole game, and that’s what we’ve been talking about is complete games.”
The Bulldogs spotted Cheyenne East (3-1-2) the first goal of the contest when Joe Dobson found the back of the net in the 12th minute to give the Thunderbirds the early 1-0 advantage.
That was the last time the Gering defense would allow any scoring.
Junior Gage Smith put the Bulldogs on the board in the 21st minute of the game after beating the Cheyenne East goalkeeper Javen Westby on the second effort on an assist from Brent Barge to tie it at 1-1, where the score would stand heading into the break.
The Thunderbirds amped up their attack in the second half, testing Weatherington five times to no avail.
Gering’s Justin Wallace took advantage of a free kick in the 14th minute of the second half, feeding Barge on a runner to put the Bulldogs in front, 2-1.
“We talk a lot on our free kicks and try to drive the ball into that back post,” Clark said. “Brent Barge made the run exactly like we talked about it and he showed up right there. It was an easy tap-it-in, nice goal.”
The Bulldogs took advantage of another free kick just 7 minutes later when Mattieu Prieels executed his free kick perfectly only to find senior midfielder Jarron Rasnic at the other end for the header and 3-1 lead with just over 10 minutes left to play.
“We played that ball back there and we know that somebody’s got to make that run,” Clark said. “Jarron was there, got great touch on it, and put it home.”
Rasnic said that the opportunity to score off the free kick was a first for him.
“I never really go in on free kicks, but that was the first one I’ve ever went in on and scored a header,” Rasnic said. “It was just a great ball and I ended up on the end of it.”
The Bulldogs (5-4) had the edge on shots, out-shooting the Thunderbirds 15-10 in the match. Additionally, Gering had a 9-to-5 advantage on shots on goal.
East finished with six corner kicks to Gering’s two.
Weatherington had a solid night in net, stopping 4-of-5 attempts, while East’s Westby was 6-of-9 in the stops department.
The No. 8 (Omaha-World Herald) Gering girls couldn’t capture its seventh win of the season on Tuesday after suffering a 2-0 setback to Cheyenne East in Cheyenne.
“They’re always a competitive team and we always play with them,” Gering coach Lisa Freeburg said of the Thunderbirds. “But we struggled to capitalize against them.”
The Bulldogs stood their ground in the first half, keeping East’s potent offense at bay for the first 40 minutes of play. However, the Thunderbirds found their rhythm in the 11th and 13th minutes of the second half, riding out the rest of the match for the 2-0 victory.
Freeburg said there was no breakdowns in the Gering defense, but felt her squad started out a little slow early in the contest.
“The girls did an excellent job,” she said. “They never gave up. We really worked to push up at the end and possess the ball. They did an excellent job of not giving up, communicating, talking, moving and playing at the end. So, they did really well at the end of the game. We came out a little slow, but our defense still did an excellent job and held them to zero at half.”
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs matched up well with the Thunderbirds.
Cheyenne East held a slight advantage in the shots department, out-shooting Gering 13-11 in the contest. In addition, the Thunderbirds only had a one-shot advantage on goal against the Bulldogs, putting seven shots to Gering’s six on goal. Corner kicks also worked in Cheyenne East’s favor, attempting four to Gering’s two.
Gering’s Maggie Martin saved 5-of-7 East shots on goal.
Both teams will next be in action on Friday at the GNAC Tournament at Baldwin Fields in Kearney. The Gering boys earned a No. 7 seed and will play No. 2 seed Lexington at 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The Gering girls earned a No. 5 seed and will face No. 4 Norfolk at 2:30 on Friday.
GNAC girls pairings
No. 1 Kearney vs. No. 8 Lexington
No. 5 Gering vs. No. 4 Norfolk
No. 3 Hastings vs. No. 6 Columbus
No. 7 Scottsbluff vs. No. 2 North Platte
GNAC boys pairings
No. 1 Kearney vs. No. 8 North Platte
No. 5 Scottsbluff vs. No. 4 Hastings
No. 3 Columbus vs. No. 6 Norfolk
No. 7 Gering vs. No. 2 Lexington