SHERIDAN — There are times when soccer can be an agonizing game.
The first 50 minutes of the 80-minute match with Laramie Friday night were exactly that for Sheridan.
The final minutes, however, were all that mattered.
After falling behind 2-0, five Bronc goals in a span of 26 minutes gave them a 5-2 win over the Laramie Plainsmen Friday night on senior night at Scott Field.
“It’s a tough game,” head coach Kevin Rizer said after his team improved to 3-3 in conference play. “You have to finish chances when you get them because you don’t get a lot of chances. It doesn’t matter the formation that we’re in, it doesn’t matter where we play players, if they play hard, they can beat anybody in the state. If they don’t, they can lose to almost anybody. It was a matter of all 11 guys on the field playing at the same time, and I think we finally got that tonight.”
In all reality, Laramie’s two goals Friday night were sloppy in approach, coming with a certain amount of luck.
Twenty-five minutes into the game, a run down the right flank by Laramie’s Blake Wright was corralled by senior stalwart defender Scott Passini. Passini’s clearance would bounce off the Laramie attacker, right at his feet where he would dribble it in front of goal, and Laramie’s Cameron Campbell squirted the ball out of a crowd of defenders and across the goal line.
“After that first goal everyone was defeated and hanging their heads,” Passini said after the game. “The captains got together and told them to pick their heads up because we can win this game. We dominated that first half, it was, I think, just a lucky goal.”
The first half was frustrating offensively for Sheridan, as they managed just one real shot on goal, a soft, straight-at-the-keeper roller from Matteus Segura.
“We didn’t play a first half,” Rizer said. “I thought Scott Passini said it well after the game: ‘We still have to play a first half boys.’”
As the second half began, gameplay followed the same trend. Stingy Sheridan defense didn’t give Laramie any real chances, but the Broncs were unable to create shots in the final third.
Heads began to go down across the field when Sheridan fell behind 2-0 with 33 minutes remaining in the game. Lucas Thorsness of Laramie followed a bouncing ball in front of three Sheridan defenders, somehow found his way through, and proceeded to hit it home.
Dejected and seemingly without an answer in gaining any ground, Sheridan looked finished. The scene was grim for team that has struggled offensively during the past month of play.
Then came the fun part.
With 26 minutes on the clock, seniors Patrick McClurg and Lucas Wollenman willed themselves to Sheridan’s first real chance of the game. McClurg stole a ball deep in Laramie territory, played it to Wollenman who hit it low and into the bottom right-hand corner of the goal for Sheridan’s first sign of life.
McClurg shouted back to his team, egging them on.
Even then, a tie or a win seemed to be a tall order. Gillette held Sheridan scoreless last week, and the Broncs hadn’t scored more than one goal in a game through their last four contests.
At the 13-minute mark, the senior night theme continued as Collin Eisenman stepped in front of a Laramie pass and tapped it to Wollenman. Wollenman fired a laser through-ball to Colter Carzoli who was freed behind the Laramie defense. Carzoli, while not a senior, would calmly put the ball far post away from an outstretched keeper to tie the game 2-2.
From there, Sheridan could have easily settled for the draw, but the goals just kept coming.
Less than a minute later, Gunnar Edeen, another senior, lined up a free kick from about 45 yards away. His near-perfect low-sailing shot would graze off the head of Reed Ritterbusch and under the keeper into the net. Ritterbusch was credited with Sheridan’s go-ahead goal.
Next up was Dan Sessions, an quiet role player in midfield, who got in on the scoring.
Wollenman lofted yet another long ball, this time to Sessions down the right side. Sessions ran down the ball near the endline and lifted his shot over the keeper into the top right-hand corner of the net, and Sheridan led 4-2.
As the clock wound into extra time, Sheridan’s attackers continued to fly up the field. Wollenman would record his third assist as he crossed a low ball inside, returning the favor from earlier to McClurg, who one-touched the ball high into the net, sealing a massive 5-2 win for Sheridan.
“It’s definitely something we’ve been waiting for,” Rizer said. “I thought we outplayed them the whole game. I thought they had one opportunity they converted, we had five we didn’t convert (in the first half). The scoreline did not justify the way the game was going.”
After the game, Rizer asked his team: Do you understand what you’re capable of?
If they weren’t before, they probably should be now.
“We definitely have the skill to be the best team in the state,” Passini said. “We just need to play like we did tonight every single game.”
After a noon game against Cheyenne South today, Sheridan plays its final three on the road, looking to make up more ground in a strong 4A East soccer conference.
“When they decide to play a full game like this, they’re going to be something special, and I’m very proud of them tonight,” Rizer finished.
Today’s game against South will be played at Big Horn High School due to the Dan Hansen track meet scheduled to take place at SHS.
LARAMIE 25 minutes Cameron Campbell
LARAMIE 47 minutes Lucas Thorsness
SHERIDAN 52 minutes McClurg to Wollenman
SHERIDAN 67 minutes Wollenman to Carzoli
SHERIDAN 68 minutes Edeen free kick to Ritterbusch
SHERIDAN 75 minutes Wollenman to Sessions
SHERIDAN Extra time: Wollenman to McClurg