SHERIDAN — A set piece in the 76th minute was all that separated the Sheridan Lady Broncs soccer team from Cheyenne Central Saturday at Homer Scott Field.
Central’s Molly Black scored the game’s lone goal to take a 1-0 victory over Sheridan.
“Today easily could have been a win for us,” SHS head coach Mallery Marshall said after Saturday’s match.
Sheridan pushed Central the entire match until the late goal. With just four minutes left in the match, the Lady Indians earned a corner kick — which was originally called a Sheridan goal kick, much to the dismay of the few Central fans that made the trip north.
After the call was changed to give the ball back to Central in its scoring third of the field, the corner kick was sent into the box past a handful of Sheridan defenders. It was tapped around in front of the keeper before Black snuck in and poked it into the net to take the lead as the clock ticked down.
The 1-0 loss came less than 24 hours after the Lady Broncs dropped a 2-0 game to Cheyenne East, another game that could have gone Sheridan’s way. East scored two second-half goals on a penalty kick and free kick to snatch the win.
“Anytime in two games you give up three goals all to set pieces or penalty kick, that’s not the way you want to lose a game,” Marshall said. “It’s definitely kind of hard to swallow, but they played incredibly well today, maybe even better than yesterday.”
Despite the weekend’s two losses, Sheridan is playing some of its best soccer of the season. Marshall called Friday’s match the team’s best of the year before turning around and improving even more Saturday.
The weekend was a vast improvement from where the team sat a month ago.
The Lady Broncs have two games left in the regular season, the first a makeup match with Cheyenne South Monday. Sheridan’s only conference win of the season came in a match with South on April 1, so another win over the Lady Bison would be a big boost for a team that came up short on two close opportunities over the weekend.
Sheridan will close the regular season at rival Gillette Friday. Gillette beat Sheridan 7-0 in the first matchup, but Marshall’s confident her team has regained a swagger that was missing for a majority of the season.
“I’d like to see a progression, continuing to build on these last two games that we’ve had,” the coach said. “I think we can even do better offensively, obviously, by capitalizing on chances. But also just continuing to work the ball to the outsides.”
The trouble remains finishing around the goal. The Lady Broncs haven’t scored a goal since that April 1 matchup with South.
But Sheridan’s defense has been the team’s bread and butter, and the steady play on the defensive side of the field, Marshall said, will have to be the catalyst in eventually creating more scoring opportunities.
Sheridan cut the deficits with its last three opponents significantly. A 7-0 loss to Laramie became just a 3-0 loss; 6-0 East was 2-0 in the rematch; and a 3-0 loss to Central turned into a 1-0 loss that could have easily gone the other way.
“It’s going to come down to us holding the other team, essentially, to not scoring for us to win a game,” Marshall said. “For us, defense is huge.”
Sheridan’s defenders forced tough shots, and keeper Jessica Tracy did the rest for most of the match Saturday.
In the fifth minute, Tracy timed her jump off the line perfectly and slid into a save against a streaking Central attacker. Tracy forced a shot off the far post nine minutes into the second half, and she challenged another breakaway in the 57th minute as the shot was sent wide of the goal.
Sheridan is still looking to turn opportunities into points on the scoreboard, and the Lady Broncs defense could help those points become wins whenever they happen.
Cheyenne Central 0 1 — 1
Sheridan 0 0 — 0
Second half — 1, Molly Black, 76th minute.