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Laramie Shakes Off St. Louis; Meets Paradise Valley Next

Nov. 19, 2013 - Laramie County Community College shook off the journey from Cheyenne, WY and the rust of not playing since Nov. 2 to win its first game in the NJCAA Division I Women's Soccer National Championship with a defeat of St. Louis Community College 2-0 on Tuesday.

Laramie, 18-2-1, next plays at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Eastern Florida State's Melbourne Campus field, meeting No. 2 seed and defending national champion Paradise Valley for the right to advance to Friday's semifinals.

Paradise eliminated Laramie from the 2012 tournament.

For Laramie head coach Jim Gardner Wednesday is just another game.

"They're not the same team they were," Gardner said. "They have a lot of sophomores but they had some kids that were special for them that aren't there.

"We're looking at it as the best we can possibly play and I think we can match up pretty well."

As for Tuesday's victory: "I thought we could have done better on our attacks," he said. "I'd like to see some better attempts on goal."

St Louis, which fell to 15-7-2, was ousted on Tuesday.

Laramie got on the board first as sophomore Taylor Hockley beat St. Louis goalkeeper sophomore Apolonia Thomas on a header with 17 minutes and 7 seconds to play in the first half. The assist went to freshman Yuko Shinomiya.

Hockley then assisted as sophomore Sayit Mejia Bello beat Thomas at the 40:57 mark for a 2-0 lead.

Gardner didn't see the long trip from Wyoming as being much of a factor in Tuesday's game.

"The hard part was the layoff," he said. "We take trips all the time. It's not as big a deal I don't think. We've had a couple of days to rest and relax. I think that's added to even being here two days but then having two weeks off.

"We struggled a little bit with our touches and being able to run our patterns."

For Laramie sophomore Francesca Ali of London, England, who also played in the nationals last season, the return trip is special.

"Absolutely excited," she said. "I am so proud. It was hard work getting here. But we knew it was going to be more hard work actually playing in it. After today's performance I really do feel that we've got a strong chance of going all the way.

"Being part of the best in the country it's just such an overwhelming accomplishment."