SHERIDAN — The Kelly Walsh girls soccer team was primed and ready for this trip to the Big Horn Equestrian Center.
The Trojans qualified for the tournament the past five years and were immediately relegated to the consolation bracket in every one of them.
Even with the best record in the West Conference and with something to prove, it just wasn’t enough to break the streak.
Two second-half goals, beginning with a deflating odd bounce, doomed the Trojans on Thursday to their sixth straight first-round exit in a 2-1 loss to Cheyenne East in the quarterfinals of the Wyoming State High School Class 4A Soccer Championships.
“Katie (Johnson) made a great play on that one,” Kelly Walsh head coach Jerry Realing said. “Just an unlucky bounce over the top of her and those things are just going to happen.
“Then we lost track of the girl towards the end, but that’s an even game.”
Kelly Walsh was encouraged through the first half after maintaining their fair share of possession through the first 40 minutes against East’s preferred game of long-ball.
East’s physical dominance was held in check by the more agile Trojans, who played late enough in the afternoon that the remaining dew from the morning rain near Sheridan had dried up enough to not slow them down.
“We play a very good possession game and I thought we had very good possession,” Realing said. “I thought we got the ball through their midfield. They played very good defensive — they dropped really fast and we struggled to get behind them.”
Jessie Erickson was credited with the first goal, her 13th of the season, in the 57th minute.
That goal stunned the Trojans, who didn’t play with the same aggressive enthusiasm afterwards, allowing for Ashlee Rotert to get behind the back line and score East’s second.
Realing admitted that while he never likes to lose, this game showed more positives than negatives. Seniors Sara Lamb, Bailey Neff, Chelsea Thornburgh, Brooke Johnson and Sydnee Jensen won’t return next year, but there’s a lot of promise on the horizon.
Despite the best record in the conference, wins over every conference foe, a well-versed attack and the West’s closest game against the East at this year’s tournament, the Trojans are still in search of their first quarterfinal win since 2005.
“We can muscle people around a little bit in the West Conference,” Realing said. “But we need to play (East Conference’s) style of soccer, but with possession.
“We need to be physical and have high emotion. If we can play the style of soccer that we did today, we’re going to be okay.”
Laramie 4, Rock Springs 1
It took Laramie until the 64th minute to break through but that was followed by three goals in 3 minutes as the Plainsmen’s title defense continued with an impressive win over West No. 1 seed Rock Springs.
Defender Paige Trent lifted Laramie with the first goal before Class 4A leading scorer Lexi Pulley netted her 24th, Courtney Hamilton slid home another and Allison McElwee finished the trifecta off in the 79th minute.
Rock Springs standout freshman Alyssa Bedard scored just before the whistle to put the Tigers on the board.
Laramie will play Cheyenne East in the semifinals.
Gillette 7, Jackson 1
Seven different Camels scored as Gillette welcomed Jackson to the Class 4A state tournament in one-sided fashion.
Gillette got out in front quickly with Kennedy Schomer’s goal coming in the first 45 seconds.
Jackson scored in the 18th minute, which cut the lead to 2-1 before the Camels scored five unanswered.
Cheyenne Central 4, Green River 1
Freshman sensation Makyleigh Howard scored her 17th and 18th goals of the year to put the Indians ahead 3-0 in the 17th minute and Central cruised the rest of the way.
Green River managed to avoid the shutout off the foot of Taylor Stoeger, who scored her 21st goal of the season in the match’s 78th minute.
Gillette gets a rematch against Central in the other Friday semifinal.