It was a difficult season for the Lady Braves but one that they met head on. Different lineups as well as an altered playing style and strategy have made the team a more complete version of itself as the post-season began.
“The [Regional weekend] resulted in our team advancing to the State Tournament,” replied head coach Sandy Buckstaff. “To my way of thinking, that constitutes a success. And that success builds on top of the success of finishing the regular season in fourth in the Western Conference, ahead of three other long-time 4A schools. I’m pretty sure that our regular season finish and the fact that we qualified for State were surprises to a majority of neutral observers. I’m proud of the team.”
All of the adversity led to the Lady Braves knocking off the Natrona Fillies last Thursday in a 1-0 match on the NCHS field, a scenario which would have felt nearly impossible a decade ago. The squad got a goal from Katie Robinson in the 19th minute which proved to be the game-winner.
“Specifically with respect to the West Regionals, we played as well as we were capable all three games, with differing results each game,” Buckstaff added. “We beat Natrona County 1-0 at their home field on the first day; I think the score was a little flattering to Natrona County, as I thought we played better than the final score reflected. We were beaten decisively by Rock Springs on Friday (8-0), and nothing in the final score line is unfair with respect to the disparity between the two teams. Rock Springs is a very good team (its lineup is chock full of All-Conference players) playing at the height of its powers. We’re simply not on their level. And on Saturday we were beaten by Jackson 2-0 in what was our third close game of the season with them. They took advantage of two small mistakes we made and made us pay for those mistakes (as good, experienced teams do). That said, we did have the better of play for long stretches of the game, particularly in the second half.”
Although the rest of the weekend did not turn out as well in the win/loss column, the Lady Braves accomplished the main feat of simply getting to the state tournament which is now just a short drive from their homes in Jackson.
“We are set to play Cheyenne Central High School in the opening round of the State Tournament,” Buckstaff continued. “Their record is 13-1-0, with their only loss being to Thunder Basin High School 3-1 early in the season. They have since avenged that loss twice– once during the regular season 5-3, and in the final of the East Regional 5-0. We’ll go play as well as we can and focus on the process, not the final result. We intend to have fun.”
• Audio Coverage
A listen link for the Lady Braves’ run at the 4A state tournament will be available at SVInews.com.
4A State Soccer (Women)
#1E Cheyenne Central vs
#4W Star Valley 9 a.m.
#2W Kelly Walsh vs
#3E Laramie 9 a.m.
#2E Thunder Basin vs
#3W Jackson Hole 9 a.m.
#1W Rock Springs vs
#4E Cheyenne East 9 a.m.