Kelly Walsh vs. Rock Springs

Kelly Walsh’s Lyndi Miller, left, and Rock Springs’ Kristin McCrann battle for the ball during their game May 5 at the Tom Staffileno Activity Complex in Casper.

Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune

Another Class 4A state soccer tournament brings with it another chance for the West Conference to dethrone the East.

Since the tournament’s current seeding format in relation to conference finish there has been only one team from the West to raise the championship trophy. And that program is in this year’s field with a No. 2 seed.

The 2012 Kelly Walsh boys accomplished that feat as a No. 3 seed.

This year’s Trojans enter having gone 0-2 against the East this year with a 3-2 overtime loss to Sheridan and a 5-2 loss to Laramie. Green River also went 0-2 after a 1-0 loss to Cheyenne East and a 7-2 dissection by Cheyenne Central.

Meanwhile, Natrona went 2-2 against the East. The Mustangs beat Sheridan, 2-1, and Cheyenne South, 6-0, but lost to Gillette, 2-1, and Laramie, 3-2.

Then there’s the case of No. 1 West seed Rock Springs, which started the season with a 4-1 win against Cheyenne Central before dropping a 4-3 overtime heartbreaker to Cheyenne East. The Tigers get another chance at the Thunderbirds in the quarterfinals.

But for the time being, the East is still on top.

Defending state champion Laramie plays Green River in the first round after losing to Cheyenne Central in the East Regional final. Central, the 2015 champion, is led by two of the state’s top scorers (Ross Elliott and Aaron Barber) who start their title reclamation journey against Natrona.

Gillette has one more shot at its second boys championship before the split with Thunder Basin Kelly Walsh is the Camels’ potential quarterfinal roadblock.

Girls

Historically speaking, all of Central, Gillette, East and Laramie are favored over the West because no girls team from the West Conference has won the championship.

Central, the East’s No. 1 seed, fell to West top seed Rock Springs 5-4 to start the season. The Tigers also defeated East earlier this season, 2-1, possibly giving the West its best chance to end the drought.

But Rock Springs is not the West’s only team with a chance.

Jackson, the two-time defending Class 3A champion, made the jump and became the No. 2 seed after a six-round shootout win over Kelly Walsh in the regional semifinals. The Broncs are fast and talented, and open with Gillette, which came out on top, 3-0, in the team’s regular season match.

The Camels were the No. 1 seed in the East regional before being upset by Central.

Kelly Walsh, the No. 1 team going into the West regional, recovered after that disappointing semifinal loss and will face 2015 champ East in the quarterfinals.

Matches begin Thursday morning when favored Central plays Green River and Gillette opens against Jackson.

Preview Capsules

Boys

1E Cheyenne Central Indians

Coach: Tim Denisson

Record: 13-2-1

Record against other teams at state: 5-2-0

State appearances: 27

State championships/most recent: 7/2015

Outlook: Central cruised into the tournament on the efforts of Ross Elliott (22 goals, 21 assists) and Aaron Barber (20 goals, 10 assists), who have the Indians on a six-match winning streak.

4W Natrona Mustangs

Coach: Chad Miller

Record: 7-9-1

Record against other teams at state: 1-8-1

State appearances: 20

State championships/most recent: 1/1996

Outlook: The Mustangs will be without top-scorer Danny Diaz (20 goals) in the opening match and are just 1-3-1 since the Casper Cup.

2W Kelly Walsh Trojans

Coach: Bryan Chadderdon

Record: 8-5-2

Record against other teams at state: 4-4-1

State appearances: 17

State championships/most recent: 6/2012

Outlook: The Trojans were once the best in the West, going unbeaten in their last five matches against teams that weren’t Rock Springs.

3E Gillette Camels

Coach: Saber Garcia

Record: 11-5-0

Record against other teams at state: 5-4-0

State appearances: 20

State championships/most recent: 1/1994

Outlook: Jacoby Garcia is strong in goal, but the Camels haven’t won in regulation against anyone other than winless Cheyenne South since April 13.

2E Laramie Plainsmen

Coach: Dan Benford

Record: 12-3-1

Record against other teams at state: 7-2-1

State appearances: 16

State championships/most recent: 6/2016

Outlook: Blake Moore (20 goals), Alexis Eleuterio (seven goals, seven assists) and Tanner Riedel (72 saves) lead the defending champions into state.

3W Green River Wolves

Coach: Chris Bieber

Record: 10-6-2

Record against other teams at state: 3-6-2

State appearances: 12

State championships/most recent: 0

Outlook: The Wolves are an endurance team with Patrick Marchal (78 saves) in net, but have scored the fewest goals of any team that qualified (23 goals).

1W Rock Springs Tigers

Coach: Sean Grube

Record: 14-2-2

Record against other teams at state: 10-2-2

State appearances: 14

State championships/most recent: 0

Outlook: Rock Springs had the longest unbeaten streak (12 matches) in the state and goalkeeper Nic Kautzman has made more saves (85) than any other keeper here.

4E Cheyenne East Thunderbirds

Coach: Ryan Cameron

Record: 7-9-1

Record against other teams at state: 2-8-0

State appearances: 23

State championships/most recent: 7/2004

Outlook: East already beat Rock Springs 4-3 in overtime on March 18, which was also the last time the T-Birds beat a team that qualified for state.

Girls

1E Cheyenne Central Indians

Coach: Jeff Norman

Record: 13-5-0

Record against other teams at state: 5-5-0

State appearances: 19

State championships/most recent: 3/2012

Outlook: The Indians’ defense has been stout, allowing just four goals in their last nine matches.

4W Green River Wolves

Coach: Tracy Wyant

Record: 10-8-0

Record against other teams at state: 4-8-0

State appearances: 8

State championships/most recent: 0

Outlook: Goalkeeper Holly Hunt led 4A with 101 saves in the regular season and Taylor Stoeger (19 goals) is one of the best midfielders in the state.

2W Jackson Broncs

Coach: Tom Ralston

Record: 10-7-1

Record against other teams at state: 4-6-1

State appearances: 13

State championships/most recent: 7/2016 (all in Class 3A)

Outlook: The Broncs started the season with six matches in eight days and enter state having played three in three days at regionals.

3E Gillette Camels

Coach: Carl Matson

Record: 12-3-0

Record against other teams at state: 7-3-0

State appearances: 16

State championships/most recent: 1/2011

Outlook: The Camels were the favorites out of the East Conference with Grace Roswadovski’s 15 regular-season goals until Central won 2-1 at regionals.

2E Cheyenne East Thunderbirds

Coach: Jim Gardner

Record: 11-5-0

Record against other teams at state: 5-5-0

State appearances: 21

State championships/most recent: 10/2015

Outlook: Sydney Miller (14 goals) and Jessie Erickson (12 goals, 13 assists) lead the perennial power into the tournament.

3W Kelly Walsh Trojans

Coach: Jerry Realing

Record: 12-4-0

Record against other teams at state: 7-4-0

State appearances: 20

State championships/most recent: 2/2005

Outlook: The Trojans are talented in the midfield and bring something to prove after the six-round shootout loss to Jackson.

1W Rock Springs Tigers

Coach: Stephen Pyer

Record: 14-5-0

Record against other teams at state: 9-5-0

State appearances: 10

State championships/most recent: 0

Outlook: The Tigers have outscored opponents 11-1 in the last four matches behind freshman sensation Alyssa Bedard (16 goals).

4E Laramie Plainsmen

Coach: Kim Whisenant

Record: 11-5-0

Record against other teams at state: 5-5-0

State appearances: 20

State championships/most recent: 4/2016

Outlook: Laramie has just one win over a fellow state-bound team since the 6-0 victory over Kelly Walsh on April 18 (4-4-0).

Follow sports reporter Brady Oltmans on Twitter @Brady_CST

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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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