SHERIDAN —The Sheridan Bronc soccer team got a full game plus 20 minutes extra to work into their new roles in Friday’s season opener.
While a 2-2 draw deadlocked Riverton and Sheridan to the end at Homer Scott Field, the Broncs improved as the game went on, showing potential in their inexperienced offensive attack.
Sheridan’s last chance during the two overtime periods came by way of a beautiful dipping volley off the foot of Gunnar Edeen. His shot would fall over the head of the Riverton keeper, but bounce off the crossbar then the field goal post behind the soccer goal thus signaling it out of play despite the ball falling back across the goal line, and the two teams settled in a tie.
Head coach Kevin Rizer noted in the week leading up to the opener how they would rely on a senior defensive back line, developing a new starting midfield and attack as the weekend progressed. His big hope though, was to see a fight in his new team.
“I felt like we battled tonight,” he said, pleased with the effort. “Now, we didn’t play beautiful soccer all night. There were instances of it, and when we did we were the quality team on the field I felt like. You expect that to come slow at the beginning of the season. We won’t sacrifice results for the process, we preach that all the time to our boys: process, process, process. They’ll get better, and as they do the results will come.”
Sheridan got its first goal when Patrick McClurg exploded on the counter attack to give the Broncs a 1-0 lead, helped with a 1-2, give-and-go pass from Joe Shassetz. McClurg would knock his first attempt off the Riverton keeper, but the rebound would fall at his feet and he drifted home a floated shot over the goalie and scrambling defenders for the 1-0 lead with 25 minutes on the clock.
Riverton held possession in the Broncs’ half for much of the first 20 minutes, but the counter seemed to put Sheridan in control as their back line held the Wolverines without any threatening shots on target.
Eventually, one of their few accurate attempts of the half was the one that mattered. A smooth far post shot would sneak past Bronc keeper Ty Fauber to even the score at 1-1 with 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
In the second half, the teams found their identities a little more, and Sheridan got its groove. New starting midfielders and forwards ran balls up the line, creating chances for Sheridan.
However, despite being held without much possession, Riverton would find space up the left side of the field and knock in a bouncing cross to take a 2-1 lead at the 25 minute mark.
But Sheridan’s pace would soon pay off.
Play up the left side for the Broncs resulted in a long cross from Nick Gill being gathered in by McClurg across the field, who would put it back in front of goal. Reed Ritterbusch poked the ball in front of the keeper, where a streaking Lucas Wollenman would put the ball away for the final goal of the game.
The two teams exchanged threatening chances during two 10-minute overtime periods, but neither put many shots on goal.
Riverton’s best chance came from a free kick when Scott Passini was bowled over from behind just outside his own 18-yard box.
The Wolverines took the surprising call and free kick, but the attempt sailed high and over the crossbar.
The Broncs earned two corners in the extra periods, but couldn’t seem to get a shot on target, holding possession in Riverton’s half as time finally ran out.
Sheridan’s 100-minute game will be followed by three jamboree opponents Saturday in Casper, as they continue to work into their new roles.
“We’re going to continue to talk about those same ideas of movement and passing and tracking, those same exact ideas,” Rizer said. “We’re going to continue to try different systems. Give some kids who maybe toward the end weren’t playing as much, we’ll give them a chance again tomorrow.”
Sheridan, last year’s runner-up, faces last year’s state champion Kelly Walsh at 11:30 a.m. today followed by shortened games with Rock Springs at 2:30 p.m. and Natrona at 5:30 p.m.