regional soccer championship

Kelly Walsh's Noelle Vigneri scores a goal against Rock Springs in the championship match of the Class 4A West Regional on Saturday at Cheney Alumni Field in Casper.

This year’s Kelly Walsh girls team is much more than just its leading scorer. Sure, senior Nicole Klungness broke the program record for goals in a career this season, but ignoring the rest of the Trojans’ capable starting 11 would be a catastrophic error.

Also playing forward is Melicia McIntyre, who has demonstrated the ability to make defenders miss despite her youth. Then there’s the midfield to get them the ball — Noelle Vigneri, Barrett Lloyd,and a host of others. If a team is able to get the ball past them with sustained possession then they have to beat defenders like Maddison LeClair, Ashley Sanchez and company before getting the ball past goalkeeper Alyssa DePoorter.

That’s a tall enough order that only Rock Springs and Laramie have been able to do this season. And, in an argument the Trojans could make, the Tigers are undefeated and that 2-1 loss to Laramie came on short notice to open the season. Plus, the Trojans scored first in the first meeting against Rock Springs (the first goal the Tigers allowed all season) and then played to one-goal differences the next two times.

“If you believe that Rock Springs is one of the best teams in the state, which we certainly do,” Kelly Walsh head coach Jerry Realing said last week, “then I wouldn’t want to play us.”

The reality facing the Trojans is that they, like every other West Conference team, hasn’t won a quarterfinal match since the 2009 state tournament. It’s a belabored statistic but with every season that comes and goes it’s a season that drifts further into obscurity.

The Trojans’ are optimistic about ending that statistic this year. They get the chance to play Laramie again, which scored two upsets at regionals to secure the No. 3 seed from the East Conference. Laramie has struggled this season against teams with speed and the Trojans have showcased their quick counter attack numerous times this season.

And with Laramie not being able to fill the goal-scoring left behind by last year’s graduating class, the Trojans will look to spend the majority of Thursday’s 9 a.m. quarterfinal on the attack. If all goes according to plan, and the Trojans play as physical as they do against Rock Springs, then the Trojans will find themselves in the position that they want to be in.

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High School Sports Reporter

Brady Oltmans reports on high school and local sports. He joined the Star-Tribune in July 2016 after covering prep sports and college soccer in Nebraska. He also contributes to University of Wyoming sports coverage. He and his dog live in Casper.

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