After a season full of ups and downs and twists and turns, the Laramie Plainsmen are starting over with the state soccer tournament in Jackson.

The new journey begins with a match against Rock Springs Thursday at 4 p.m. The Plainsmen have a 9-6-2 overall mark. The Tigers are 13-6 on the season. This will be the first match between the two teams this season. Their last meeting was a 4-0 LHS victory in consolation play at state last year.

Laramie’s season produced some great wins, including an upset of No. 1 Thunder Basin (the Bolts’ only loss), some tough losses and some matches that were decided at the last second. Add to that, various line-ups they’ve had to use throughout due to a variety of circumstances, it’s been a roller-coaster ride.

Seniors Tanner Reidel and Alex Moreno chatted with KOWB’s David Settle about the state soccer tournament. Both find it hard to believe their high school careers are coming to an end. They also talked about the key to having a successful weekend and being confident in what they can do.

Laramie head coach Dan Benford says it’s about starting fresh.

“The whole season starts over this weekend. For us, that’s how we approach it. Certainly, everything we’ve done in the past is cleared out, all those losses go away, and we’ve got a short memory on those. We rebuild and take the positives and try to take those into state with us.”

Even though they didn’t play the Tigers, Benford is okay with that. He said he’s got a bit of a scouting report on them, but really it’s about the way they play.

One important piece to the Plainsmen on the pitch is an indicator to Benford about how they’re going to play in that match.

“What I look for any time we take the field, and what I’m gauging the first 10-15 minutes is whether or not we’re bringing our swagger. The confidence that we know how to play soccer… Those are the kind of things I look for, smiling, laughing, knowing that they’re bringing their game.”

Benford also said entering the state tournament off a comeback win against Cheyenne East at the regional tournament last weekend is a big positive.

“Hopefully we’ll be in a much better mindset this time, where we’re not looking to walk by the first round, we’re looking to fight for everything we get this year.”

LHS lost their first-round match a year ago 2-0 to Green River. That is a motivating factor.

Just like the Laramie girls, the Plainsmen have enjoyed a great amount of success. They’ve won five state titles since 2008 with the most recent in 2016, which finished off three championships in a four-year span. They would love to finish this season on a high note Saturday afternoon.

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