SHERIDAN — Dontae Crow likes to score goals. Just ask him. It’s his favorite thing to do on the soccer field.
And it’s a good thing, because he does a lot of that.
Crow led the Sheridan Broncs in goals scored this season with 18, each one equally as impressive as the others. More impressive, though, was how and when Crow put the ball in the back of the net.
At the peak of the season — an eight-game winning streak from April 2 to May 2 — Sheridan scored 25 goals. They scored at least three goals in seven of those eight games.
However, the Broncs ended the regular season on a scoring drought. A drought might be putting it nicely. After that month-long winning streak, Sheridan went 0-1-2 to finish the regular season, and they were shutout in all three games. To top it off, they opened the regional tournament with another shutout loss.
They were able to score two goals in the regional consolation game but still lost, settling for a 4-seed in the state tournament. It was not the way the once-hottest team in the state wanted to enter the state tournament.
A big reason for the sudden change of luck was Crow. On May 2, Crow led the state in goals scored with 13. Entering the state tournament — five games later — he was still at 13.
So when the deflated Broncs were forced to take on the state’s top team in Natrona, they were going to need some of their best play of the year.
They got it, and it came in the form of a hat trick from Crow.
“For him to get that first hat trick really showed how much he can step up,” Sheridan head coach Matt Johnson said. “We had been dry, when it comes to scoring goals, for about five games there. To come out and have a game like that and really put it on them really showed how dangerous he can be.”
After failing to qualify for the state tournament last season, Crow came into this year with one goal in mind, and that was to help this year’s senior class get a state championship.
How could he do that? The only way he knew how: putting the ball in the net.
“I just wanted to be a leader and help our seniors get a state championship,” Crow said. “And of course I just want to score goals. That’s about all I try to do.”
With the junior forward’s burning desire to score, defenses had trouble preventing him from doing that. Crow used his blazing speed to his advantage. He was simply too fast.
“A strength is my speed, of course,” he said. “Usually a teammate will play a big ball and I’ll be able to run on it and outrun others.”
A big part of the Sheridan offense was getting Crow the ball in the open field. They sent balls over the top to allow the streaking forward to break away from the defensive line, or they spread the field and let Crow blow by defenders off the attack.
Crow admits that his speed is what separates him from most of the other forwards in the state. But as a three-sport athlete, he carries his skills from the football field and the basketball court over to the pitch. Combining different elements from each sport with his speed gives him opportunities to score the goals he loves so much.
As a defensive back on Don Julian’s football team, it’s all about footwork. Running stride for stride with a wide receiver translates to dribbling past backpeddling defenders on the pitch.
With basketball, it comes down to feeding off of his teammates.
“I think soccer and basketball are a lot alike,” he said. “You really have to work as a team to move the ball around and find openings to score.”
In Sheridan’s semifinal matchup with Cheyenne East, Crow never found the opening he needed to put one past the keeper. The Broncs lost that game, ending their chances at a state championship. Crow came back and scored twice in the third-place game, a 3-0 win for the Broncs.
Crow made a name for himself this season as one of the best male soccer players in the state, earning both All-Conference and All-State honors. For a Sheridan Broncs team that is losing seven seniors, the junior forward will once again be an integral part of any state championship push next season.
Coach Johnson hopes to see Crow take over for that senior class in a leadership role.
“I expect him to feel more of the pressure as a senior,” Johnson said. “I’d like to see him take more of a leadership role, explicitly, where he recognizes the influence he has on the team and how they look up to him.”
Johnson also mentioned that he’d like to see the Broncs be better at possession soccer when play dictates that, and Crow will need to become dangerous all over the field, not just in the open space.
But he’ll still need to score goals, of course.
And he will.
That’s what he does.