All members of the 2017 Wyoming Cowgirls soccer team, including its incoming freshmen, stayed in Laramie throughout the summer in order to continue training at altitude.
That wasn’t a problem for players like Australian transplant Alisha Bass, a senior defender.
“I’ve always loved Laramie summers,” she said at Wyoming’s fall media day on July 31 in Laramie.
Fellow senior defender Claire Parker echoed those thoughts before commenting about how fun being around her teammates was for the entire summer.
Then there’s senior goalkeeper Georgia Rowntree, who also expressed her enjoyment for being in Laramie all summer, but was focused on preparing for the upcoming season as she got more and more excited.
The three senior co-captains turned much more serious when they shared the ultimate goal for the team this season: a conference title.
“Every year we have the same goal and that is to win the Mountain West Conference,” Rowntree said. “The last two years we’ve lost in the first round of the Mountain West Tournament and for us that hasn’t been good enough. We’re not happy with those performances.”
Wyoming was supposed to make a run in 2015, going into the tournament on a three-game winning streak, but the Cowgirls fell to Colorado College 1-0 in the first round.
Then there was 2016 when Wyoming went into the season with a chip on its shoulder and entered the conference tournament unbeaten in its final four games.But Utah State ended the Cowgirls’ season with a 2-1 defeat.
UW’s current roster is determined to surpass its shortfalls from the previous two years and will have a golden opportunity to send a message right away when they open the season Saturday in Waco, Texas, against Baylor.
The Bears are one of two Power 5 teams on Wyoming’s schedule, the other being Kentucky. Playing against some of the nation’s best teams has not gone unnoticed by the Cowgirls.
“We’ve competed with very high ranked teams and we know we can do it,” Parker said. “It’s just a matter of going out and giving it our best shot and staying confident in ourselves. We know we have nothing to lose against those schools so that will be a good measurement of where we’re at and what we need to work on.”
Baylor opened its season with a 5-0 shutout of Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday. The Bears went 12-7-1 last season as the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament before losing in the conference semifinals to TCU.
Wyoming travels to Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, Kentucky, a week later to play the Wildcats, who finished a disappointing 5-9-4 despite a 2-1 victory over national No. 9 Arkansas in the last week of the season.
To compete with, and possibly defeat, both of those two teams the Cowgirls are focused on being more consistent.
The Cowgirls lost to Iowa 3-2 last season, and carried that momentum to two wins in their next three games. But after that stretch they went on a four-game losing streak, which included the start of conference play.
“Consistency is the toughest thing for a team to accomplish,” Rowntree said. “We play some excellent soccer and I think we worked on over the spring being able to stretch that out into 90-minute periods and sometimes even more than that.”
That is the recipe Wyoming will need to follow in order to achieve their goals. The Cowgirls were picked to finish fifth in 2017 Mountain West Coaches’ Preseason Poll.
With landmark and winnable games marking the non-conference slate, the team hopes to be playing its best soccer in the MW season and to receive the proper results to show for it.
They’ll go into each game with the mindset that it is the championship game of the MW Tournament, so that if they get to that point, it will be ingrained in their minds. Anything other than that is secondary at this point.
“Winning the Mountain West Championship is all that is on our mind right now,” Parker said. “Making it to Vegas and winning the whole thing and making it to the NCAAs. Getting that ring would be awesome.”