SHERIDAN — A few weeks ago, if the Sheridan High School girls soccer team played like it had Thursday afternoon against Natrona County, it likely would have cost them the contest. But a win when the Lady Broncs failed to play up to their potential is a sign of not only an improving squad but a formidable one, as well.
Sheridan didn’t bring its ‘A’ game to Homer Scott Field Thursday, but it still walked off the pitch with a 2-0 victory.
“Getting a win when you don’t play well is good,” Sheridan head coach Kevin Rizer said. “I don’t know if we got better today. That’s what we’ll continue to work on, but you’re right, to be able to get a victory when you don’t play well is good. I tell them to enjoy every victory. They’re not easy to get in soccer.”
The Lady Broncs were coming off a weekend, which saw them score two road victories, one at Laramie and another at Cheyenne South. During that stretch something — which the Lady Broncs haven’t quite put their collective finger on — clicked, which transformed them from a bottom-dwelling squad into a contender.
“It definitely felt like there was a change, but we’ve seen it coming.” Sheridan’s Talia Steel said. “This team has been something we’ve been looking forward to for a long time. It has seemed pretty sudden, but there were small gradual changes and somehow it has come together.”
The Lady Broncs now hold a 4-6 (12 points) overall record. Sheridan is 3-5 in conference, two points clear of Campbell County and three points back of Laramie.
The Lady Broncs have scored at least two goals in each of their last three games. And it didn’t take them long to put one on the board Thursday. Aria Heyneman staked her team to the early advantage with a score in the 11th minute, but other than that, Rizer didn’t really like his team’s mentality in the first 40 minutes.
“When you start a game unfocused, it’s really hard to gain your focus through the course of the game,” Rizer said. “I could actually see that in our pregame. In all of the 24 years I’ve coached sports, you can tell very quickly, in a pregame, if your team is focused. … In the first half, to be quite honest, it was just kind of individual and not real focused.”
Sheridan flipped the script in the second half. The Lady Broncs created more chances, had more flow and looked like a team enjoying a winning streak.
Steel logged a score in the 53rd minute, and that was plenty of cushion for Sheridan goaltender Libby Gardner and company. Gardner recorded three saves as Natrona County had just five shots all game.
The Lady Broncs peppered Natrona County’s goalie Avery Potter with 14 shots, nine of which were on frame.
The next three games for Sheridan are at home and will go a long way in deciding seeds for the regional tournament. The Lady Broncs play host to league-leading Cheyenne Central (18 points) April 26 before home games against Cheyenne East (12 points) and Campbell County (seven points).
Nation County…0 0 — 0
Sheridan……….1 1 — 2
First half_1, Sheridan, Aria Heyneman
Second half_2, Sheridan, Talia Steel