SHERIDAN — With a lot at stake Saturday afternoon, Jose Guerrero put his left boot on the ball, and with four minutes left in the match against Laramie County Community College, his shot answered all of Sheridan College’s prayers.
The Sheridan College men’s soccer team was looking to make history Saturday. A win over LCCC clinched a second-place conference finish and a first-round home match in the Region IX Tournament, both program firsts. The Generals had never beaten LCCC before, either.
But in the 87th minute, Guerrero broke a nil-nil tie, and the rest was history.
With the clock winding down in a defense-heavy match, forward Nicolas Parris found some space in the middle of the field. He meticulously worked a pair of LCCC defenders to maintain possession before finding Guerrero to his right.
Guerrero took care of the rest.
The sophomore midfielder got a clean left-footed kick on the pass and put it far post past the keeper. Sheridan snatched a 1-0 victory.
“We set out to host playoffs, and now we’re doing that,” SC head coach Tim Starr said after the match. “It shows the hard work the sophomores put in last year to rebuild this program into what it is.”
Once Guerrero broke the scoreless tie, it was up to the Generals defense to make sure his goal was a game winner. For the final four minutes, SC did what it had done all game and made things very difficult for the LCCC offense.
Defense has become a consistent strong point for the Generals this season. One thing the team hadn’t done, though, was shut an opponent out. In fact, SC’s last shutout came on Oct. 17, 2015.
But the defense shined Saturday in its most dominant performance of the season, and it happened for all 90 minutes, not just the final four.
In the 15th minute, LCCC had two clean shots on goal. The first shot was saved by SC keeper Tyler Ring, and with Ring out of the net, the second shot was deflected by SC’s back line defenders.
Late in the half, Ring was drawn off his line again, but the ball was cleared by Sheridan’s defense.
In the second half, LCCC ripped a shot off a corner kick that was saved by a diving Ring in net. A minute later, another corner kick resulted in two players — SC’s Chase Johnson and LCCC’s Juan Covarrabubias — smacking heads and no goal scored.
But the play of the game came in the 85th minute. After Sheridan’s Titus Nickson attempted a bicycle kick in the box on an SC set piece, the shot missed, and Lararmie County countered. Pushing ahead toward the other end of the field, the Golden Eagles found themselves in an advantage with two attackers to one Sheridan defender and the keeper.
But Nickson was quick to his feet after the missed shot attempt. The burley Generals defender sprinted back to cut off the LCCC offense and saved a goal.
Two minutes later, Guerrero sent home the game winner.
“We work selflessly for everyone,” Starr said. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve got to cover for somebody else. Everyone’s willing to put in that 120-yard sprint to get back and save someone”
The Generals celebrated their exhausting effort in well-deserved fashion Saturday, but Starr said there was still work to be done. The Generals were right back on the field Monday.
Sheridan will host Otero Junior College (7-6-2, 3-5 in Region IX South) Saturday at 1 p.m. at Maier Field in the first round of the Region IX Tournament.