A tough draw awaits the Laramie Plainsmen as the 4A State Soccer Championships starting Thursday in Cheyenne.

After a 7-5 regular season, Laramie qualified with a win last week over Campbell County in Gillette at the 4A East Regional Soccer Championships. The Plainsmen finished third after a loss in the semis to Thunder Basin, 1-0, and a 2-1 victory over Cheyenne East in the third-place match.

At 9-6, LHS faces a team they haven’t seen, the third-ranked Jackson Broncs, in the first round at the state tournament on Thursday. The match starts at 2 p.m. from Okie Blanchard Stadium at Cheyenne East High School.

Laramie’s back at the state soccer tournament for the first time since 2018. After not qualifying for the state championships in 2019 and having last season canceled due to the virus, the Plainsmen bring a young, inexperienced squad to the Capital City.

LHS takes on Jackson (15-2), who won the state title in 2019, so essentially, the Broncs are the defending state champions in Class 4A.

Plainsmen head coach Anne Moore knows playing Jackson will be a challenge, but she’s less concerned with the opposition and more focused on her team.

“We have to be smart and play together defensively like we did last week at the regional tournament. Then, be ready to transition to our attack. Once we win the ball, keeping possession, being able to build an attack quickly, and catch them off guard, so we can get in behind and create opportunities in front of their goal.”

Senior David Tangeman and junior Cameron Hoberg have been critical pieces in the success Laramie’s had this season. Tangeman is one of the team’s captains and anchors the defense, while Hoberg is one of the leading offensive threats on the team. He’s tied for the team-high with 11 goals.

The two Plainsmen players visited with KOWB’s David Settle about what happened at the regional tournament, preparing for state, the match up with Jackson, and more.

Moore believes it’s huge for this young team to qualify for state.

“Without a lot of upperclassmen that had experience, especially the few seniors we have, it was a big undertaking. At the beginning of the season, I said, either you guys can be good yourselves or you can really help this group catch up as quickly as possible, and that’s going to determine your season. Either it’s going to be really fun because we’re going to get better as the season goes on or it’s going to be really tough if you don’t help the younger players reach their full potential.”

Moore points to the leadership on the team and how that’s made a difference. She also spoke about how players have stepped up down the stretch as a big key.

How far has the team come? Moore said, “It’s huge. If you watch our first game compared to now, it’s completely a different team. We’re moving the ball. We’re in sync with each other; passing; organized; we all know where we’re supposed to be on the field. We have patterns of play, and I just add things each week, and as they get things, I just add more things. Where we are right now, I’m really, really happy with their progress.”

The winner of the Laramie-Jackson match will play the winner of the Sheridan-Evanston match in the semifinals on Friday at 4 p.m.

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