SHERIDAN — During the first half of the Sheridan High School girls soccer team’s game against Campbell County Saturday morning, a fan urgently encouraged any Lady Bronc not named Zoie Jones to step up.
Jones had made an abundance of saves in net in the early stages of the contest and kept it a scoreless tie deep into the second half. However, the Lady Camels finally cracked the code, just once, in the second half, and it held up in a 1-0 victory.
Even amid the loss, Jones’ performance in net remained commendable.
“I think Zoie is the best keeper in the state and today was exactly what she does,” Sheridan head coach Kevin Rizer said. “… She leads the back, and she makes every save that she can make.”
Jones turned 18 shots away, which included stopping a penalty kick in the first half. Nearly the entire 80 minutes Saturday played out in the Lady Camels’ attacking half — as Sheridan only attempted four shots, half from Kaylee Abernatha — and Jones stood up to most every challenge. The only time Campbell County found a sliver of space occurred in the 65th minute as Kierra Cutright headed in a corner kick for the game’s lone score.
The Lady Broncs only had about 12 hours to recover after dropping a one-goal decision at Thunder Basin late Friday night. That recovery time got shaved down a tad as Saturday’s game kicked off at 10 a.m. — as opposed to the standard noon kickoff — due to prom Saturday evening. But Rizer isn’t using any of those external factors as a valid reason for dropping what was Sheridan’s first home conference match of the season.
“We are not making any excuses for any of that stuff,” Rizer said. “We have to continue to get better and practice, and that’s what I want to see us do. I want to see us with practice mentality that allows us to get better as a team. They’re battling now, and they’re starting to see what we expect, but we’ve just got to keep working at getting better in practice.”
The loss dropped the Lady Broncs to 2-6-2 overall and 1-5 in conference play. Sheridan’s dropped five straight conference matches since beginning with a 5-0 win at Cheyenne South. Offensive production sits as one of the main culprits to the struggles. Aside from a nonconference game against Buffalo — where Sheridan tallied four goals — the Lady Broncs have only netted one goal in six contests.
Jones, who has seen this all play out in front of her every game, believes the goals will come.
“Of course it’s frustrating,” Jones said. “But we are always improving. From the beginning to now, we’ve improved so much. We are about to turn that corner and explode and have a breakthrough. We are getting there.”
Rizer echoes his goaltender’s sentiments and expects the Lady Broncs to find that offensive flow they had against the Lady Bison last month.
“As a coach, my job is to encourage our team to improve and to get better in everything we do,” Rizer said. “Do I feel like we’ve gotten better? Absolutely, we’ve gotten a lot better. Do I want us to breakthrough? Absolutely, I want us to breakthrough. In the end, we still have things that we need to get better at on the practice pitch, and we’ve got to continue to do that.”
Sheridan will get quite familiar with its practice surroundings as all but one of its final six matches will take place within Sheridan County. A matchup with Laramie represents the first of those six games, which kicks off Friday at 6 p.m.
Campbell County….0 1 — 1
Sheridan……………0 0 — 0
First half_No scoring
Second half_1, Campbell County, Kierra Cutright