WNCC alumni return for fun soccer match

This year’s annual Western Nebraska Community College pre-season alumni soccer match was one for the books.

After the alumni match wasn’t held a year ago because of the COVID pandemic, the former WNCC soccer players came back in full force to battle this year’s WNCC soccer teams in impressive fashion.

The scores among the women’s and men’s games were different as the teams played three 30-minute halves instead of the typical two 45-minute periods. The Cougar women, who made it to the semi-finals of the Region IX tournament in May, received two goals from Vicky Granda, a returning player from Quita, Ecuador in earning a 3-1 win.

The men’s alumni contest wasn’t as close as the WNCC men received a pair of goals from returner Saugat Rai and freshman Rodrigo Cercal to earn the 8-0 win.

The players that returned – 12 on the women’s side and 13 on the men’s side – had a fun time playing a sport that they love. They were even looking forward to having Nancy Rasnic’s famous beefy nachos afterwards.

Adrian Veliz-Smith, who played for the Cougars in 2016 and 2017, said it was fun to meet former teammates.

“It was fun to see old faced and new talent,” he said.

Ashley (Baker) Carnwath, who played for WNCC in 2011 and 2012, thought the women’s alumni team competed hard for coming together and playing having not practiced together.

“Coach [Todd Rasnic] said the alumni team was the best ever,” Carnwath said. “It is always nice to reconnect with old friends and play the game we love.”

The women’s alumni team played what Ariana Herrera described as gritty.

“We played gritty and got after it,” Herrera, who played in 2011 and 2012, said. “I am super proud to come out here and play with this group. It makes me so happy to be a part of this team and represent [WNCC soccer alumni].”

The women’s game was the closest. The WNCC women took a 1-0 lead just 13 minutes into the first quarter on Granda’s goal. The score stayed that way through the rest of the first and the second quarters. The third quarter saw the most scoring.

WNCC went up 3-0 after Granda booted her second goal just four minutes in and then Andrea Jimenez scored off a defensive stop by alumni goalkeeper Jessica Taylor. Jimenez goal off the rebound made it 3-0 with six minutes gone in the third.

The alumni finally scored within the 11th minute as Destiny Mueller scored to make it 3-1.

Herrera said while they played well and battled on the field, she wishes the current team good luck in their season, which begins August 19 when they travel to face Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

“Good luck to the girl’s team this year,” Herrera said. “I hope they do well this season.”

The men’s game went south in the first quarter of three when the WNCC men netted three goals. The first goal came in the 18th minute when Rai scored to make it 1-0. Gabriel Santos made it 2-0 a couple minutes later. The WNCC team led 3-0 after the first half.

The second half saw WNCC score two more goals. Cercal scored his second goal just fine minutes in and then Washington Alves scored five minutes later for the 5-0 lead after two quarters.

Rai scored his second goal just two minutes in the third and then Cercal scored his second goal three minutes later for a 7-0 lead. Axel Ruiz scored in the 20th minutes to finish out the scoring and the 8-0 lead.

Travis Mundell, who played for the Cougars in 2015 and 2016 and is a Gering graduate, thought the men’s team played well.

“They had a lot more energy than I remember we used to have,” Mundell said. “They were very calm, and all had a great touch. I would advise them to be the loudest team on the field and also to have the most fun.”

The WNCC men’s and women’s soccer teams will be back in action next Saturday when they travel to Denver for a scrimmage against the Bright Stars Colorado team.


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