SHERIDAN — The worst way to go.
The Sheridan High School boys soccer team’s state title hopes ended in a devastating 4-3 shootout loss Friday afternoon at Rock Springs High School.
Gillette beat the Broncs for the fourth time this season as the two schools battled through a scoreless regulation and were forced to solve things in the unforgiving soccer rule of sudden death.
Head coach Kevin Rizer said his team played well, had good chances and challenged the Gillette keeper.
“Nine times out of 10 that performance gets us through to the state championship game,” he said.
“I’m so happy for them as a group of young men, we tell them to be the same men in victory as you are in defeat, work as hard as you can in every situation and get better every day…all those things define this team.
“These guys did everything that we asked this year,” he continued. “I don’t think anyone would have picked Sheridan this year losing so many seniors last year.”
Sheridan plays Cheyenne Central today at 11 a.m in the consolation final. Gillette plays Laramie for the state title.
A year ago, Sheridan’s season ended in a 5-4 PK loss to Kelly Walsh in the 4A state championship game. Today marks the first time in four years Sheridan hasn’t played in the state championship game.
“As a coach. Vince Lombardi said ‘show me a good loser and I’ll show you someone who’s a loser.’ For me, I’m not a good loser, but in (high school) it’s about understanding that a win and a loss isn’t everything. Understand what this game has what they learn for their lives. We’re still educators. When I view our season from that perspective, which isn’t over by the way, the school’s never been in third place, and it’s something we can go accomplish.
“I feel bad as a coach that knows his team did everything they could have to win and they didn’t get it.”
Gillette scored first in the shootout, while Sheridan’s first shot from Matteus Segura was stopped by the Gillette keeper. Sheridan evened things when keeper Jess Edens got a save. It was 3-3 after Reed Ritterbusch, Nick Estes and Scott Passini all found the back of the net.
In the end, Lucas Wollenman’s shot was saved, and Camels captain Austin Fort slotted his to send Gillette to the title game.
“We did everything right in the shootout,” Rizer said. “We saved one, and every shot of ours was on goal and they happened to save two of them.
“It’s kind of the nature of soccer. Sometimes it can be harsh,” Rizer concluded. “We had a game plan and our kids played their tails off, they executed it they were a team. They were a family.”
Sheridan is 2-1 against Central this season.