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CASPER COLLEGE MEN’S SOCCER

Casper College men's soccer looks to take down Otero JC in Region IX semifinals

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Casper College Men's  Soccer

Casper College's Jack Pascoe blocks a shot by Northwest College's Martin Gonzales-Gutierrez during their game last season in Casper.

The Casper College men’s soccer team’s tough early season schedule might not have been good for its overall record, but it could pay dividends. The T-Birds will find out Friday when they head to Cheyenne to take on Otero Junior College in the Region IX semifinals.

The T-Birds (10-5-1) faced four teams that finished the regular season ranked in the top 20 and went 1-4-0 in those contests, including two losses to No. 4 Laramie County Community College. LCCC faces Western Nebraska Community College in Friday’s other semifinal game. Outside of those two losses to the Golden Eagles, however, the T-Birds put together a five-game winning streak down the stretch and defeated Northwest College 3-0 in the first round of the Region IX Tournament.

“I think we’re playing our best soccer at the right time of the year,” Casper College head coach Ben McArthur said. “And we need to be, because when you get to the tournament everything goes up a level.”

The T-Birds found that out last season when a 3-0 loss to Otero in the semifinals ended their nine-game winning streak and their season.

Casper College got some measure of revenge against the Rattlers back on Sept. 24 with a 1-0 victory. Freshman D’Andre Williams scored in the 22nd minute and sophomore goalkeeper Konnor Macy (Worland) had 22 saves to lift the T-Birds to the win.

McArthur hopes Friday’s game can follow a similar script with another winning outcome.

“We have to be clean in the back, organized in the midfield and finish our chances in front of goal,” he said. “If we can knock one in early and make Otero chase us and chase the game I like our chances.”

The T-Birds got a boost late in the year when sophomore Jesper Van Halderen, last year’s Region IX freshman of the year, returned to the lineup. The sophomore striker, who led the team in scoring last year, missed the first 15 games with a knee injury.

His return gives the T-Birds another proven goal scorer to team with sophomores Jack Pascoe (team-leading seven goals) and Danny Diaz (Natrona County) and freshman Williams.

“We challenged Jesper when he first came back and he responded,” McArthur said. “It’s always nice when you can have the freshman of the year rejoin your team.

“I would like to have that guy who can score 12 to 14 goals, but I think we have done a good job of spreading the wealth and not allowing teams to focus on one guy.”

Macy has been solid in goal, especially late in the season. He posted four shutouts in the regular season and enters Friday’s game with a 0.89 goals against average.

McArthur credits the play of the defenders in front of Macy for the T-Birds’ late surge.

“We have been solid in the back line down the stretch,” he said. “We’ve got defenders like David Viscosi, Chanwhi Jung, Heejun AN and Ewan Gordon who have played well, and Damian McGregor at left back can basically lock down one side of the field.”

Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN

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Sports editor

Jack Nowlin returned to the Star-Tribune in 2007 after eight years covering Michigan State University athletics. A Wyoming native, and a graduate of Jeffrey City High School and the University of Wyoming, Jack serves as the Star-Tribune’s sports editor.

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