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Laramie girls soccer taking confidence into state

May 15—The Laramie High girls soccer team lived up to its top seed by claiming the Class 4A East Conference title over Thunder Basin last weekend in Cheyenne.

The Plainsmen paired the tournament crown with a regular-season title to earn the No. 1 seed for this weekend's state tournament in Rock Springs.

After earning a first-round bye, the Plainsmen topped Cheyenne East 4-1 in the semifinals before beating the Bolts 2-0 in the title match. Laramie scored five second-half goals in its two tournament matchups.

Despite most of the scoring coming in the later part of games, the Plainsmen feel they were finally able to start fast from the opening whistle. Laramie's growth hasn't just come offensively, but also with defensive communication.

"We had to figure out our tendencies," Laramie coach Kim Whisenant said. "Once we were able to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses, the play has been awesome."

The Plainsmen open the state tournament against West No. 4 seed Natrona County at 2 p.m. Thursday at Rock Springs High. The winner plays the winner of West No. 2 Kelly Walsh and East No. 3 Campbell County in the semifinals.

The Plainsmen have had a relatively younger roster this season, including seven sophomores and four freshmen. Early on, the underclassmen had to catch up to speed while the upperclassmen held down the fort.

"We had freshmen that have never played together," sophomore Devani Romero said. "We're now a family and play for each other every minute of the game. That's what has been making us so successful."

Added senior Chloe Whisenant: "We're focused on completing passes and converting opportunities. We were able to do that (at regionals), which was a lot to build off of for this team."

Laramie and Natrona County did not see each other during the regular season. The Fillies have shown the ability to compete with top teams this season, tying West No. 1 seed Jackson 3-3 last month.

Despite what Natrona could throw at Laramie, the Plainsmen feel confident in their ability to scout and predict the other team's attack.

"A lot of our play at the beginning of the season was individual," Kim Whisenant said. "We know who we are now and what we can be."

The Plainsmen have seen different players step up when called upon. At regionals, sophomore Ava Wallhead scored two goals against East and assisted on the team's first goal against Thunder Basin.

Wallhead scored twice in the second half against the Thunderbirds. She later assisted on a goal by Chloe Whisenant that broke a scoreless tie with Thunder Basin.

"(Ava) has been astounding," Chloe Wallhead said. "She has been playing like the dominant player she is. I'm so proud of her."

Romero feels one of the team's best traits this season has been maintaining a high level of energy after taking a lead. She mentioned the team has kept its foot on the gas and put different opponents on their heels.

This week in practice, Whisenant plans to ease the team through. The Plainsmen don't need to reinvent the wheel at this point in the season, and are instead focusing on nailing down more of the basics.

"We're going to watch film, and we'll do some finishing," Kim Whisenant said. "We'll get back to physical training and therapy. We'll do some running and get rid of that lactic acid buildup. We don't want to take it too crazy."

Kim Whisenant, who's in her first season back as Laramie's head coach, feels the team is in a good place going into state. How she plans to attack the Fillies will depend on what she sees on film throughout the week.

"We're going to keep moving," the coach said. "I like our combination of players. I'll set them accordingly based off what were presented."

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