Complete effort leads Plainsmen girls over Bolts

Apr. 6—The seniors on the Laramie High girls soccer team earned the first win over Thunder Basin in their careers Friday night, beating the Bolts in dominant fashion 3-0 at Deti Stadium.

The Plainsmen nearly took a one-goal lead in the first 15 minutes, but a goal from Mercedes Garcia was called off after an offsides call. Another scoring opportunity for Laramie presented itself after a crucial mistake from the Bolts a few minutes later.

After the ball was knocked into Thunder Basin's box, a shove in the back resulted in a penalty kick for Laramie. Goalkeeper McKenna Barham elected to take the kick, powering it past Bolts' keeper Morgan Shirley with 20 minutes, 13 seconds left in the first half.

"She set up like she was thinking I would kick it one way or the other," Barham said. "So, I knew a shot right down the middle would go by her."

LHS' backline kept Thunder Basin (2-1-2 overall, 1-1-1 Class 4A East Conference) in check right out of the gate, holding the Bolts to zero shots through the first 20 minutes. A frustrated Thunder Basin committed five first-half fouls.

"We finally put together two really nice halves," LHS coach Kim Whisenant said. "What we did defensively tonight was everything for our team."

Out of Thunder Basin's five first-half shots, only one was on net. The Bolts' best look came off of a corner from the leg of senior Attie Westbrook that was headed into the hands of Barham.

"What stands out about this game is how strong we started," Barham said. "We've started slow in every game this year but this one, and it was nice to see."

The Plainsmen's strong effort continued into the second half, with LHS firing off two shots in the first eight minutes. Conversely, it took Thunder Basin more than 15 minutes to attempt one.

"(Our backline) was phenomenal today," Barham said. "They shutdown everything. Thunder Basin has a strong group of forwards, but my defenders kept their composure. They allowed me to watch the ball, instead of having to dive and stress out."

Sophomore Devani Romero padded the lead by chasing down a loose ball and scoring in the 71st minute to put the Plainsmen up 2-0. Whisenant called Romero's goal the defining moment of the game.

"(Being up 1-0) is the worst lead you can have in soccer," Whisenant said. "The other team can always come back. When she scored, it confirms that you're turning the tide and dictating play at the point."

Two minutes later, LHS freshman Shaylee Lucero and Westbrook got tangled up, resulting in a foul called on Laramie. Lucero picked up a yellow card, and Westbrook was given a free kick from 30 yards out.

The free kick resulted in Thunder Basin's sixth corner kick of the game. Barham came up big again, snagging the corner out of the air for her fifth save in the game.

In the 81st minute, the Plainsmen were awarded a free kick of their own. From 35 yards out, Lucero smashed what looked to be a pass with too much power into the box. The ball bounced over Thunder Basin goalkeeper Charlie Hurm's head and into the back of the net to seal the 3-0 win.

"It means a lot to us," Barham said. "I knew it was just a mental thing for us. We proved that we can work together and win tonight."

Added Whisenant: "This was everything moving forward. It gives the belief that we can be whatever we choose to be. We aren't worried about who they are, we're more worried about taking care of who we are."

Laramie (4-2, 4-0) returns to the pitch for a road match against Cheyenne Central next Thursday.


Halftime: Laramie 1, Thunder Basin 0.

Goals: Laramie, Barham (Unassisted), 25. Laramie, Romero (Unassisted) 71, Laramie, Lucero (Unassisted), 81.

Shots: Laramie 14, Thunder Basin 12. Shots on goal: Laramie 7, Thunder Basin 6. Saves: Laramie 6 (Barham); Thunder Basin 5 (Shirley 3, Hurm 2).

Corner kicks: Laramie 1, Thunder Basin 6. Offsides: Laramie 1, Thunder Basin 0. Fouls: Laramie 5, Thunder Basin 6.

Austin Edmonds covers Laramie High, University of Wyoming and community athletics for WyoSports. He can be reached at Follow him on X at @_austinedmonds.