The boys and girls soccer teams suffered similar outcomes this past week as they hosted MacGregor and lost in Rivers.
The boys team fell victim to a 11-0 throttling to the defending provincial champions MacGregor Mustangs on Tuesday.
Neepawa responded two nights later though, as they battled Rivers to a 1-0 loss. The Tigers were also battling a questionable call on the night from the game's official, who gave a NACI player two yellow cards within the first 30 minutes of the game, leaving Neepawa down a man for about 60 minutes of play.
Somehow the Tigers still managed to keep the game close though, creating several chances and only losing by one goal after a game their coach believes is the team's best effort of the year.
“It's tough for the team to be down a player for that long, but the guys played a great game still,” coach Daryl Critchlow explained. “They're listening and learning. We actually had a few chances to score and win or tie the game, too.”
Meanwhile, the Lady Tigers lost their opening game of the week 4-0 to MacGregor. The teams entered the half tied at 0-0, with NACI controlling most of the play, but MacGregor scored four second-half markers to earn the 'W'.
Thursday in Rivers, the Tigers jumped out to a 1-0 lead after Lina Gordon scored midway through the first half. NACI continued to dominate possession in the half, but couldn't find the net again.
Rivers came out on fire in the second half, using a strong wind to their advantage with long balls, and surprised the Tigers with three consecutive goals.
NACI responded by pushing hard for the last 15 minutes, creating several scoring chances, but were only able to find the net off a penalty shot by Gordon with about 7 minutes remaining, leaving Rivers with a 3-2 win.
“Both games we had a chance to grab a stranglehold early on but couldn't, which let the other teams sneak back in for the second half,” coach Kaiten Critchlow explained. “But the first half Thursday we played our best team soccer of the year, which was great to see.
“The girls also showed a ton of character the way they battled back from down 3-1 to come very close to tying up that game. We're definitely on the right track at this point of the season.”
Both teams have two games this week before the Zone playoffs next Monday in MacGregor.