SHERIDAN — With any new head coach, growing pains, learning curves and adjustments weave their way into the early portion of the season. First-year head coach Scott Soderstrom and the Sheridan High School boys soccer team are currently in the midst of tackling all of those challenges.
Soderstrom has many things he’d like his team to embody in his tenure, but one remains most essential and first on the to-do list.
“The discipline part is huge,” Soderstrom said. “It’s as little as making sure everyone is here on time. I made a huge deal about 100 percent effort all the time, and I made a huge deal about keeping people accountable. It’s a cultural thing, and if we don’t start that right away we are going to lose it.”
Soderstrom played high school soccer in Worland and had many suitors for college soccer but elected to chase collegiate football dreams. Many of Soderstrom’s players this season at Sheridan play multiple sports just like he did in high school, and Soderstrom plans to use that well-roundedness and versatility to the Broncs’ advantage.
“We have a lot of triple-tough kids,” Soderstrom said. “We have a bunch of wrestlers. We have a bunch of basketball players. We have a lot of guys that play football. … We have some great athletes and very coachable tough kids, but we don’t have a lot of guys that play a whole lot of soccer, so we are going to play way aggressive, way defensive.”
Kyle Custis and Aaron Sessions represent two that are cut from that thread — both playing football and basketball — and Soderstrom expects them, along with Bryce Taylor — another football player — to take on leadership roles on and off the pitch.
Sessions and Taylor reside up front as forwards, and Soderstrom will look for that pair to record a lion’s share of the Broncs’ shots on goal this season. Sessions found the back of the net seven times last season — the highest of any returnee — and Taylor logged six goals.
Custis primarily plays center back and anchors the defense along with youngster Garrett Coon.
A conglomerate of other youthful and veteran players — which includes three different goalies — will sprinkle in alongside those four in the midfield to complete a roster that excites Soderstrom.
“I think I really lucked out and kind of hit the jackpot on having kids that fit my style,” Soderstrom said. “You always, as a coach, need to fit your system, or your style, to the clientele you have. I got lucky that the kids we have in Sheridan County really fit my style.”
Sheridan finished fourth in the conference last season with 13 points (4-5-1). Cheyenne Central won the regular-season title with 25 points (8-1-1), while Laramie and Gillette rounded out the top three with 22 (7-2-1) and 19 (6-3-0-1) points, respectively.
Early indications point to Thunder Basin, in its first year, as the top dog. The Bolts won all four early-season games down in Casper this past week and didn’t surrender a goal in the process.
Sheridan had a mixed bag during the Casper Jamboree. The Broncs logged a shutout win, got shut out and recorded a tie to finish up their non-conference opening weekend at 1-1-1.
“We looked pretty good, and we had some bright spots,” Carter Wells said. “We also had some low spots. But at the end of the day, I felt like we did good. We’re definitely looking good for us as the season comes on.”
The Broncs will hope to avoid those low spots come Friday when they open the conference season at home against Cheyenne South at 6 p.m.