It’s hard to believe that despite its high level of play, the Gillette girls soccer team has never been a powerhouse.
Sure, there have been good seasons, but the team’s 16 state tournament appearances were the lowest of any East Conference team in the 2017 Wyoming State High School Soccer Championships, and Gillette only had one previous championship (from 2011) to show for it.
This season, however, the stars aligned, despite the team’s youth.
Only three seniors were on the roster for the Camels this season, giving way to a younger, speedier approach from a laundry list of talented goalscorers.
Gillette’s top three scorers and four of the top six were all sophomores. The Class of 2019 will be one to remember and could create a dynasty amid uncertainty of who will remain with next year’s opening of Thunder Basin High School.
They were just freshmen when the Camels fell in last season’s state championship match against Laramie, 4-2. That season, they had leadership in senior Emma Jurewicz, who is now playing soccer at Black Hills State.
But behind Jurewicz was Delaney Hallcroft and Grace Roswadovski, two freshmen who each scored 13 goals.
Those two, along with Kennedy Ayers and Emma Jarvis, returned with a vengeance this season.
“Last year we won regionals and lost on the state championship,” Roswadovski said. “I think it kind of prepared us for when we lost in regionals so we said, ‘Alright, we’re winning state this year.’”
The path to the elusive second championship in program history appeared stacked against them.
In the first round was two-time defending Class 3A champion Jackson. The Broncs were hungry to prove they were ready to play with the big girls.
The Camels had different plans and made a statement in the second half to cruise to a 7-1 victory in the quarterfinals.
Then there was Cheyenne Central, the top seed out of the conference, who had defeated Gillette in the previous two meetings. Another strong second half saw the Camels turn a scoreless tie into a victory and a spot in the state final.
Awaiting them in the championship match was conference foe Laramie.
The Lady Plainsmen may have gotten the better of Gillette in last year’s title game, but the Camels were on a warpath this year and defeated that thorn in the side three times on the way to the 2017 tournament.
Cast aside because of youth and a loss in regionals, the Camels were prepared to make a statement.
Roswadovski admitted that the Laramie matchup added sweetness, with one clarification.
“Yeah,” she said. “I think we were motivated though to play anyone, Central, East, Laramie, they’re all pretty good.”
The talented sophomore scored 20 goals, including the final two in that championship match to seal victory for the Camels.
While some of her Class of ‘19 teammates also lit up scoreboards (Hallcroft again scored 13, Ayers added 10 goals with 13 assists, and Jarvis netted five), Roswadovski was the spark igniting the Camels’ offense. She even tied Jarvis for second on the team with seven assists.
“She’s a very selfless player,” Gillette head coach Carl Matson said of Roswadovski. “So for her to get those two goals at the end capped off a really good season for her.”
Most of them play together for Gillette Edge, the club soccer team in town.
Those added games have helped develop a rhythm and a chemistry that is seldom seen on the high school stage in Wyoming.
The Class of ‘19 impact isn’t just on goal scoring, however. Goalkeeper Alyssa Stumbaugh stopped 70 shots in her sophomore season and will return for more.
“There can’t be enough said about that back line and our keeper,” Matson said. “They’re big, they’re strong, they’re physical, they work together really well, they take good angles.”
Ayers, Hallcroft, Stumbaugh and Roswadovski were all Wyoming Coaches Association All-State Selections.
Gillette was successful in a lot of of sports this season, but this soccer championship seemed almost inevitable despite the program’s smaller stature comparatively.
That could all change with this Class of ‘19. So what did they do when they returned to Gillette with the gold trophy?
“Celebrate and play some more soccer,” Roswadovski said.