Despite some heavy losses and a new head coach, the Laramie High School girls’ soccer program seeks to continue its high level of play in 2019.

The season began last Saturday with a 2-1 victory over Kelly Walsh. It was their lone non-conference match before 12 4A East Conference games start later this week.

Laramie may have to rebuild after their head coach for the last seven seasons stepped down last May. Plus, LHS lost two all-state players in Lexi Pulley and Sekoya Romero, and a third all-conference performer in Annette Linna. Pulley was a four-time All-State player and the Gatorade Player of the Year the last two seasons.

The Lady Plainsmen finished 2018 with an overall record of 11-7-1. They went 6-5-1 in conference play, where they came in fourth place. LHS took third at the regional tournament. Laramie followed that up with a third-place finish at state.

Taking over will be a new, yet old, head coach in Raquel Clark. She coached the Lady Plainsmen to a runner-up finish in 2011 under her maiden name of Raquel Macias. She’s now back and leading the program for a second time, but eight years later.

Clark admitted there’s definitely a difference this time around.

“Eight years is a lot of personal and professional growth. I’m married. I’m a mom now. So, I’m trying to focus a lot on values, team values, and girl’s leaving here with increased self-esteem, accomplishing their goals, in addition to the soccer piece.”

Clark has five starters and eight varsity players returning from a year ago. She said that’s a nice building block to have.

“It’s great to have returning seniors leading this team, as well as, players who haven’t played the past few years come back, and a solid group of juniors, as well. They’ve really helped welcome me and in creating this new team environment. They’ll be crucial when it comes to the big games and leading the younger players.”

Three key pieces are seniors Sam Turpen and Kelcey Anderson, plus junior Jayla Wulff. All three return from varsity play a season ago. They visited with KOWB’s David Settle about the new season, a new coach, new style, their expectations, and coming together quickly to try and excel in 2019. There's also a funny out-take at the end by Ms. Anderson.

Clark feels that since they’ve been working together since January, they are in a really positive place. She added they’ve done quite a bit of team building and individual skill work to put them in the right position for success. She also knows there are certain expectations that come with this job.

“Laramie has a tradition of making it to that state tournament, and that’s our big goal. Really just having these girls come together as a team, respecting each other, and playing hard. We want to establish individual and team goals and really aim for that, and we look to compete in the conference.

The Lady Plainsmen head on the road to begin matches in the 4A East Conference with a road trip to Gillette and Sheridan this Friday and Saturday. They will play the Camels Friday at 6 p.m. followed by a Saturday match against the Broncs at noon. Their next home match will be Tuesday, March 26 versus Cheyenne South at 6 p.m.