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East, South draw after wild final 5 minutes

May 1—CHEYENNE — Throughout the second half, Cheyenne South and Cheyenne East were locked in a 1-1 tie, with neither team able to break the stalemate.

But in the final five minutes, both teams scored quickly. South's DeMarcus Contreras and East's Armando Hernandez scored just over 90 seconds apart to force a 2-2 draw Wednesday night.

"We had our chances to put the game away," East coach Alex Stratton said. "We (weren't) capitalizing on our opportunities, and they did. (South) made their chances count, and we had more than our fair share of chances."

While the score was close in the end, East dominated the majority of the contest. The Thunderbirds out-shot South 20-3 and held a 13-2 advantage in shots on goal.

The deciding factor in the game was South goalkeeper Aiden Mitchell, who coach Joshua Eastman called a "gamer." Mitchell made 11 marvelous saves in the contest, which helped keep South in the game while it tried to find some footing offensively.

"Every game, I try to be as confident as I can," Mitchell said. "I try to lift my team up. I thought we had that game, but we fell short. But it was a great game overall."

Added Eastman: "He has rose to the occasion every time we have asked him, and all I can say is wow. I am so lucky to have a kid like that, and our team is lucky to have him."

East opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Jaxon Miller broke loose along the goal line and centered a pass to Liam Taylor, who chipped the shot by Mitchell to give East the 1-0 lead.

The T-Birds generated five more shots on goal in the frame, but were unable to get anything by Mitchell. East's best attempt came just past the 20-minute mark when Miller chipped a shot over Mitchell's head, but junior J.T. Quigley ran onto the ball and cleared it just before it crossed the goal line.

"We talk a lot about having grit and playing through the line and not giving up on any ball," Eastman said. "He was the kid that showed that, and that was a huge momentum builder for us."

It proved to be a costly misfire. With one second left in the half, South's Xavier Martinez Montano directed a ball at the net that bounced off a defender in front and into the bottom-left corner of the net.

East came out in the second half unfazed by the own goal and continued to generate dangerous scoring chances. But Mitchell continued to hold the fort down to keep South in the game.

His efforts were rewarded in the 77th minute when Contreras snuck behind the defense and beat East keeper Aiden Singleton to the low right side of the net to give South a 2-1 lead.

But less than 90 seconds later, South was called for a foul in the penalty area, which set East up for a penalty kick. Hernandez, who transferred to East from South this season, stepped up to the line and beat Mitchell to his right to tie the game.

With 13 seconds remaining in the game, East scored to take the lead. But the play was called offside, nullifying the game-winning goal.

While East failed to capitalize on its opportunities to take a more commanding lead, Stratton was impressed with his team's ability to generate consistent offense during the contest.

"It was good to be able to control the game," the coach said. "We are usually the ones defending and going on the counter attack. We saw some good things working the ball around, but at the end of the day, it's a little bit of a disappointment."

South closes the regular season out Friday at home against Cheyenne Central. East faces Laramie to close out its season on Friday, as well.

EAST 2, SOUTH 2

Halftime: Tied 1-1.

Goals: East, Taylor (Miller) 4, South, own goal, 39, South, Contreras (unassisted), 77, East, Hernandez (penalty kick), 78.

Shots: East 20, South 3. Shots on goal: East 13, South 2. Saves: East 0 (Singleton), South 11 (Mitchell).

Corner kicks: East 7, South 0. Offsides: East 6, South 0. Fouls: East 4, South 6. Yellow cards: South 2 (Hart, 78, Contreras, 79).

Matt Atencio covers Laramie County prep sports for WyoSports. He can be reached at matencio@wyosports.net. Follow him on X at @MattAtencio5.