Lady Dogies ready to kick off

By: 
Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

The Lady Dogie Soccer Team wrapped up an historical season last year as they took home the 3A State Consolation Championship trophy with a record of only two losses, two ties and 10 wins with 10 of those contests ending in shutouts for the squad. 

The coaching staff looks quite different this season as head coach Cami Willyard is on a year’s hiatus and assistant coach Ashley Reed stepped away from her position. Former Dogie players Jessie Stearns and Nathina Crabtree will be at the helm this year, along with returning volunteer coach Christine Rhoades.

“It’s all a little new for me,” said Stearns. “I’ve coached club and indoor, but this is a whole different situation, but I’m adjusting to it. I’m very glad that Christine is back so there is a little bit of familiarity from last season.” 

The Lady Dogie roster is also looking quite different from last season as they lost 11 seniors, seven of whom were starters, but there are returning players ready to step up to fill those shoes this season. 

Among those are just two seniors in returning All-State keeper Angel Perez as well as LaKacee Lipp who was part of a dominant defensive line last season.

“Last year Angel recorded 10 clean sheets and had a save percentage of 87,” Stearns began. “We will also have LaKacee Lipp helping direct the back line.” 

Juniors Gabby McVay, MacKenzie Conzelman, Kyah Miller, Zariah Ward and Mia Peterson, as well as sophomore McKenzie Rose will also be familiar to Dogie fans.

“As for our offense, Gabby and Mack both scored seven goals apiece last season, which was a tie for second on the team,” Stearns noted. “Gabby also led the team in assists last year with five so it will be great to have both of them back.”

With five freshmen and five sophomores joining the squad, Stearns is excited to see how they also step up to fill some of those positions vacated by the graduated seniors.  

“We lost some good players who played a lot of minutes last year,” Stearns said. “So there will be girls on the pitch this season who will be a little green to varsity soccer, but we’re excited to get going and to see where we stand.”

Filling out the early season varsity roster for the Lady
Dogies are sophomores Ava Williams, Emmi Lichtenberger, Leti Ayers and Victoria Pehringer, while freshmen Aspen Bloom, Hailey Beastrom, Ruth Rose and Saleen Rumore will also be suiting up. 

The freshmen coming in haven’t had the opportunity to play for two years, due to Covid-19 and then low numbers last year, so they are coming in with some catching up to do. 

Newcastle begins this season in the WyoPreps Coaches and Media Poll ranked just outside the top five in the number six spot. With 11 teams in the state receiving votes in the pre-season poll, the Lady Dogies are among five Eastside teams against whom they will have to battle to return to the state tournament in May. 

“Buffalo is going to be tough as usual this year,” Stearns acknowledged. “I’m thinking Torrington will also be stronger this season and Douglas is always competitive.”

From the East, Buffalo got a fourth place ranking in the poll, Riverton is seventh, Douglas ninth and Torrington 11th so Newcastle will have plenty of fierce competition this season. 

“From what I can tell, our conference opponents will all have a large number of returners this year, so I think it is going to be a very competitive year,” Stearns said. “Buffalo and Riverton both played this past weekend against 4A schools, and Riverton seemed to have really held their own against Jackson losing just 2-1.” 

The ladies missed out on the first weekend of action as Scottsbluff, Neb., who was supposed to play here on Friday, canceled. 

As such, the Lady Dogies will kick off their season this weekend as they travel to Pinedale for a Jamboree on Friday and Saturday. Over the two days, the team will get three contests where they can get their feet wet and get an idea of where they stand against some great competition. 

“Our trip this week to Pinedale is going to be really nice because it is going to give us a chance to see the competition of west conference before the state soccer tournament,” Stearns said. “We also have the possibility to play some of our conference opponents while we are there. I’m loving being a part of Newcastle athletics again and am really excited to see what we can do this season.”

The Lady Dogies will kick off their season at 1 p.m. on Friday against Worland, which is ranked third in the WyoPreps poll, so will be a challenge right out of the gate.

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