Ups and downs for Catamount soccer on road trip out West

Western Carolina Soccer just concluded a road trip out west, starting the season 1-1. The Catamounts lost a tough battle against Wyoming 1-0, and routed Northern Colorado with a win 4-0.

Two centuries ago, pioneers set out in covered wagons, intent to blaze a trail across the untamed wilderness of the Old West. These brave explorers sought new land, gold, and more importantly, a chance to prove themselves by carving out a place in the world. In many ways, the pioneers of the old west are not unlike the journeywomen of the Western Carolina soccer team. After all, The Cats are a group of hard-working student athletes and the gold they seek comes by way of a SoCon championship.

The first game of the road trip, Sept. 1, pitted The Lady Cats in a tough physical game against the Wyoming Cowgirls. Wyoming junior Tamika Wilson tallied the game’s only goal on a breakaway opportunity in the 70th minute.This game was an extremely physical test for the Cats with 44 total fouls committed and five yellow cards awarded. Freshman goalkeeper Caitlin Williams showed promise, lifting the Catamounts up with six saves in Sunday’s game. Shanna Schomker led the Catamounts with two shots on goal, followed by Bri Cunningham and Nikki Lombardo with one shot each.

The Catamounts’ second game was the next day, Sept. 2, and took them all the way to Greenly, Colorado to face off against the Northern Colorado University Bears. WCU made the most of their opportunities, scoring on four of ten shots. The Cats left no doubt about this one right from the get-go. Senior midfielder Lauren Atkinson had a day to remember, scoring the first goal off a long pass from Shanna Schmoker just 12 minutes into the game. Atkinson also had an assist to Nikki Lombardo in the second half.

Another exciting aspect of the Catamounts’ win was the seemingly unstoppable second half duo of Bri Cunningham and Buki Baruwa. Cunningham scored two goals, sliding to finish in impressive style, off of two picture perfect passes from Baruwa.

WCU goal keeping was a joint effort for the Sunday’s shutout, with Caitlin Gill and Caitlin Williams sharing time in the net. Northern Colorado tallied six shots, three on goal. Caitlin Gill made three saves late in the second half to secure the first shutout of the season for the Catamounts.

These two games started the regular season for WCU soccer. The Lady Cats returned home with a record of 1-0-1, with conference play soon to start.