For whatever reason, the Kelly Walsh Trojans have been plagued by inconsistencies this year.
Am injury-plagued 1-1 tie with Cheyenne South in the first weekend of the season was offset by a 7-1 victory over Gillette less than two weeks later. Then came a loss to rival Natrona County. Then a victory at Rock Springs.
The Trojans have two separate six-game unbeaten streaks this year. And yet, they enter the 2018 Wyoming State High School Class 4A Boys Soccer Championships as the No. 3 seed from the West Conference. It’s the worst seeding for the Trojans since they missed the 2015 state tournament.
One of the biggest problems early was that the Trojans didn’t have a true goal-scoring unit. Senior forward Ramon Lopez hadn’t fallen into his rhythm through the first two weeks of the season and injuries left the rest of the squad at less than 100 percent.
But then came the 2-1 win over Rock Springs and the offense started to churn. Lopez now leads the team with seven goals, senior midfielder Joe Gilbar has pitched in five and senior Andrew Christy has four.
Keeping the Trojans in games during that time of transition was the defense. It’s worth noting that only four other teams in 4A have allowed fewer goals than the 15 Kelly Walsh has let in. And only one of those came from the West Conference (champion Green River, 12).
Seniors Taylor Maese, Joey Geil and junior Logan Soliz cover the last line of defense in front of senior goalkeeper Teldon Zimmershied. Zimmershied came up with big stops last year, including twice in state tournament shootouts, and returns to state this year having already made 74 stops.
That defense will have to stand apart on Thursday as they face 4A’s highest-scoring offense. Cheyenne Central has 55 goals, 23 of which came from 4A’s leading scorer, Tommy Swainson.
Central is nothing if not opportunistic.
The Tribe survived an overtime scare by Natrona County in last year’s soggy quarterfinals. It’s scheduled to rain on Thursday in Jackson. Plus, they’ve already lost to Rock Springs earlier this year, a team the Trojans beat twice.
The season comes down to 80 minutes. And the Trojans will have to be consistent the whole time to limit Central’s opportunities.