Kelly Walsh’s frustrations lasted for 78 minutes on their own turf in the April 6 match against Natrona. The Trojans broke through first but were held scoreless for the final 78 minutes and their cross-town rivals came away with the win.
Those frustrations lingered through a 5-2 loss to Laramie and 1-1 tie with Evanston before the Trojans defeated defending Class 3A champion Jackson 3-1. And after Devin Palepale scored the first goal last Wednesday, Natrona frustrated Kelly Walsh until the halftime whistle again.
But once the second half kicked off, the Trojans aired their frustrations all over Cheney Alumni Field.
Kelly Walsh scored three goals in 12 minutes near the start of the second half to beat Natrona in the Casper Cup for the second straight season in a 4-0 win, the biggest victory for the Trojans in the rivalry’s history.
“They came out on our turf so we knew they were going to come out here,” Palepale said. “We had to come out a little stronger and once we scored we knew that we had them there.”
The senior Trojan opened the scoring by beating the defense and slotting the ball past Natrona’s Tanner Conley from outside the penalty spot in the 16th minute for the first of his two goals. His second came in the midst of the second-half onslaught for the Trojans when he beat Conley low.
Both of his goals, and his team’s four total, felt especially good after struggling to finish at the net.
“I knew I could beat the defense and our midfield was doing really well,” he said. “I thought if I could make a couple good runs then I could beat the defender for them to pass to me and I guess it happened with two goals.”
For Kelly Walsh head coach Bryan Chadderdon, he saw the game’s result as a continuation of what his team began building in the win over Jackson. The Trojans missed a penalty kick and one of their goals was negated on an offside call that the side judge later apologized for in that match.
“We played some of our best soccer of the year in Jackson,” Chadderdon said. “I felt like that built a lot of our confidence and these guys were pumped and ready to play today.”
Matt Hitchcock scored the game’s most dynamic goal off a volley from 25 yards out in the 46th minute to give Kelly Walsh a 2-0 lead. Palepale’s second goal was scored 5 minutes later and Cody Redmond’s shot spun sideways into the net minutes later.
Kelly Walsh could have just as well taken a larger lead into halftime if not for the play of Conley in goal.
Just six minutes after the opening tally, Natrona’s keeper turned away Palepale and pushed Alex Perez’s rebound one-timer over the cross bar. The Mustangs cleared the ensuing corner kick out of the box.
Conley made five saves in the game, four in the first half.
The Mustangs’ Danny Diaz, who is tied for the Class 4A lead in goals with 16, was shut down by double teams. Natrona managed just three shots on goal against the hardened Kelly Walsh defense.
Natrona still leads the series 14-11-6 and has outscored their rivals in the series 44-37, but last Wednesday’s win gave Kelly Walsh its fourth win in six years.
“It was cool that especially the seniors — there’s nine great kids who are seniors,” Chadderdon said. “They were all in at the end of the game, which was pretty awesome. I was just enjoying watching them celebrate.”