Lady Dogies ready to kick it off

Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

The Lady Dogies have made the transition from winter to spring sports, and have been hard at work getting ready to get their 2023 soccer season off to a good start.

Head coach Cami Willyard is back at the helm after taking a year’s hiatus, and is looking forward to a good season after losing only three to graduation, and returning several starters to the pitch this year.

“It’s great to be back,” Willyard exclaimed. “I enjoyed last week so much! It was great to be back around the girls, the energy was awesome and I knew I made the right decision to come back.”

Practice began last Monday, but due to wet fields and adverse weather conditions, the ladies had their first five practices indoors. However, they were able to get outside and on the field this week as they get ready to kick off their season this weekend at the Gillette Jamboree.

“The fields could have been in better shape but it was great to get outside,” Willyard nodded. “The girls didn’t complain at all about the cold so it felt really good.”

MacKenzie Conzelman, Gabby McVay, Kyah Miller, Mia Peterson, McKenzie Rose, Emi Lichtenberger, Ava Williams, Andrea Garcia, Leti Ayers, Ruth Rose and Hailey Beastrom are returning varsity players from last season, and are back again this year.

Having lost Angel Perez as keeper to graduation, Willyard is in unfamiliar territory having to replace her goalie.

“We’ve been working with Kenz Rose in the goal and she is looking good,” Willyard stated. “She played in the goal in the past and filled in for Angel once last season, and having Jesse Stearns as my assistant who used to play keeper and has a lot of experience there is great. As such, we are also working with a couple of freshmen because it would be awesome to have Kenz out on the field because she does some good things for us there.” 

There are 19 girls out for the sport at this point in the season, but Willyard is hoping to add one or two more to the team. With those numbers, the Lady Dogies will be able to field a JV team to play either one half, or a full game of 9 v. 9. 

The returners are coming back having earned a state tournament berth last season. Though they went two and out, Willyard noted that it was great for them to gain that postseason experience. 

Currently, Willyard is planning on running a 4-4-2 formation like they did last season, but is considering implementing a 4-5-1 (four defenders, five midfielders and one striker) or a 4-3-2-1 (four defenders, three defensive midfielders, two offensive midfielders and one striker). 

“We have some key spots to fill, so I’m going to mix some things around to get a better idea where everyone fits best,” Willyard explained. “I just got the basketball players today (Monday), and also picked up another player today, so I’m still feeling it out to see what will work best for us.”

Looking around the conference, Willyard anticipates that though Buffalo graduated quite a few girls last year, they will have a solid squad again this season. Douglas will be a solid contender, but Willyard believes that the Lady Dogies should be able to battle with them. Rawlins and Torrington should be teams that Newcastle will be able to hold their own against, and Worland - who has moved back into the 3A East - will be solid as per usual.

“Making it back to the state tournament this year is definitely our goal this season,” Willyard declared. “Then once we get there, we want to win a couple of games.”

In addition to Willyard and Stearns, the Lady Dogies are also being helped out by volunteer coaches Kristine Rhoades and Nathina Lewis. 

The Lady Dogies are scheduled to play this Friday at the Gillette Jamboree, but they are hoping to move their game to Saturday, because Willyard will be without four starters if they have to play on Friday due to players being gone for State FBLA. 

“If we can’t get it moved, I’ll only have 11 or 12 players who can play on Friday,” Willyard frowned. “If we do get it moved, we’ll be able to play JV and varsity.”

Their opponent for the opening contest is Kelly Walsh which will be a challenging contest to kick things off. 

“I like it that we will have a team like Kelly Walsh right out of the gate,” Willyard nodded. “We’ll get to see the girls go up against good competition so it’ll give us a good idea of where they fit best.”


News Letter Journal

News Letter Journal
14 W. Main St.
P.O. Box 40
Newcastle, WY 82701
Ph: (307) 746-2777
Fax: (307) 746-2660

Email Us