The field is set. The matchups are cemented. It’s time to pack for Jackson.
It was a busy weekend split between the West Regional in Green River and East Regional in Gillette. So here’s a breakdown of what happened over the weekend, as well as unofficial pairings for the state tournament.
A grueling third chapter in the Thunder Basin-Cheyenne Central saga resulted in the Bolts winning the championship on a second-half goal from DeLaney Hallcroft heading in a Grace Roswadovski corner kick.
No. 4 seed Laramie pulled off a mild upset in the third-place match, beating Gillette 2-1 on a 75th-minute goal from reigning all-state selection Lexi Pulley.
So the East finished as such: No. 1 Thunder Basin, No. 2 Cheyenne Central, No. 3 Laramie, No. 4 Gillette.
Sophomore forward Alyssa Bedard scored from her signature angle, beating Jackson goalkeeper Kamryn Lunde high and far post in the 69th minute to lift Rock Springs to a 1-0 victory in the championship game.
Following an upset in the semifinals, Kelly Walsh dominated rival Natrona County for the third time this season, 9-1 in the third-place game.
That means the West finished: No. 1 Rock Springs, No. 2 Jackson, No. 3 Kelly Walsh, No. 4 Natrona County.
Rock Springs will play Gillette, Thunder Basin will play Natrona County, Jackson will play Laramie and Kelly Walsh will play Cheyenne Central in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. All games will be played simultaneously, scattered among four fields, at 2 p.m. on Thursday.
None of those games are rematches of previous meetings this season.
Not since Natrona County in 2009 has a team from the West Conference won a quarterfinal game.
Top seed and host Thunder Basin held on to win the regional in its inaugural season thanks to a goal from Isaac Howell that put the Bolts ahead 2-1 in the 53rd minute, just a minute after Cheyenne Central tied it.
Alex Moreno put Laramie ahead with what proved to be the game-winner in the third-place match. The Plainsmen beat defending state champion Cheyenne East 2-1 for the No. 3 seed.
Final top of the standings out of the East were: No. 1 Thunder Basin, No. 2 Cheyenne Central, No. 3 Laramie, No. 4 Cheyenne East.
After 100 scoreless minutes forced a penalty shootout, Green River senior Gregory Marchal netted the clinching goal to lift the Wolves to a regional championship win over rival Rock Springs. The win also extended Green River’s current unbeaten streak to 15 games.
The third-place match between Kelly Walsh and Natrona County also needed overtime, but the Trojans scored the winning goal before penalty kicks were needed.
Top four in the final West standings stood: No. 1 Green River, 2. Rock Springs, No. 3 Kelly Walsh, No. 4 Natrona County.
Thunder Basin plays Natrona County, Cheyenne Central will play Kelly Walsh, Laramie plays Rock Springs and Green River will open with Cheyenne East in the first round. Those games are all scheduled to kickoff at 4 p.m. and will close the action on Thursday.
The only match-up among those that was previously played this season was Cheyenne East and Green River. The two opened the season against each other, which ended in a scoreless draw.
West Conference teams hope to capture the same momentum they had last year when Kelly Walsh and Green River advanced out of the quarterfinals. Natrona County’s first-round loss came in overtime and top-seed Rock Springs lost by one goal. In the semifinals, Green River got within an overtime period of playing in the state championship match.
Kelly Walsh was the last team from the West to win a state championship, taking home the hardware in 2012.