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NIC soccer teams aim for nationals

by JASON ELLIOTT
Sports Writer | November 5, 2010 9:00 PM

For both the North Idaho College soccer teams, they'll rely on new faces as they open district soccer tournaments today.

The NIC men failed to qualify for last year's tournament, with only coach Scott Moorcroft with regional tournament experience.

"I've talked to the team about the speed of the game and how good the soccer will be," Moorcroft said. "We've tried to train the last two weeks knowing for what to expect. "We've worked on the little things and what we can improve on."

In the West District tournament in Yuma, Ariz., NIC's men (9-7-2) will face Region IX champion Otero Junior College (14-2-1) of La Junta, Colo., which is in inaugural season in the NJCAA, at Arizona Western College. The winner will face ninth-ranked Arizona Western (18-3-1) on Saturday for a trip to the NJCAA tournament Nov. 18-20 in Tyler, Texas.

NIC's women (10-4-3) face host 10th-ranked Laramie County Community College (16-3-1) in a semifinal match in the District B tournament in Cheyenne, Wyo. The winner plays the winner of the match between Western Nebraska (9-9-2) and third-ranked Hutchinson Community College (18-0) on Saturday for a trip to nationals Nov. 18-20 in Topeka, Kan.

NIC's women qualified last year for the Region B tournament, falling in an opening-round match to Johnson County. NIC was third at nationals two years ago in its first trip.

"Our biggest goal is to come out and play with a lot of energy right away," women's coach Dan Hogan said. "If we can come out with energy, keep it close through the first part of the game, we should be in good shape."

Men: A difficult early season schedule left NIC 3-6 after September, with the Cardinals needing a .500 or better record to qualify for regionals. NIC defeated Laramie County to start a five-match win streak, dating back to Oct. 3.

"The team really started to come together after that weekend," Moorcroft said. "Since we won that game, everyone has had a great attitude and really began to work for each other. Even after a slow start, I felt this was a good team that hadn't played its best soccer yet. The system started to come together and we started playing one match at a time. I always felt that we could make it to districts and we started to put things together within the last month."

Moorcroft also praised the play of sophomore goalkeeper Alex Olmos for keeping NIC in the regional hunt.

"Alex has just played exceptional in the last month," Moorcroft said. "He's made some phenomenal saves that most of us think are headed to the back of the net, but he finds a way to keep them out."

Sophomore captain Evan Frobe also received praise from his coach.

"He's contributed good goals and set up a few others," Moorcroft said. "I think everyone on the defensive line has learned and grown together in the last month. They've gotten organized and made it difficult for others to score goals."

Women: NIC fell 3-1 at Laramie in early October.

"I think the main thing was we were playing at 6,000 feet for the second straight day," Hogan said of the previous meeting. "We were only trailing 2-1 with about 10 minutes remaining, pushed a player up to try to get another goal and gave up another goal."

NIC was without freshman forward Nicole Medeiros from Lake City High when they faced Laramie earlier this season.

"Nicole played (last weekend) for the first time since hurting her ankle a week before the Laramie match earlier this season," Hogan said. "She would have made a difference in that match. Nicole's got a lot of speed and heart. She's not going to be match ready, but we'll get her some minutes and see how it goes," Hogan said.

Hayley Smith, a freshman from Coeur d'Alene High, is also injured, but will be available for today's match.

"She banged up her knee a week ago," Hogan said. "It's still sore and not 100 percent, but she's another gamer and will play as long as she can."

"The girls were really excited in practice today (Wednesday)," he added. "Our goal is to win two matches and head to Topeka for nationals. We're going to leave it all on the field and see what happens."

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