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Fast start propels Central to win over Bison

Apr. 13—CHEYENNE — Soccer coaches often talk about how coming out on top after the first five minutes of a match can help set the tone for the rest of the contest.

That message rang true for No. 1-ranked Cheyenne Central during Friday night's showdown with Cheyenne South at Riske Field. The Indians scored in the opening two minutes and generated a trio of high-danger chances during that span.

It helped set the tone for the rest of the game, as Central ran away with it for a 4-0 win.

"We started with a clean sheet and played well out of the back," Indians coach Dirk Dijkstal said. "A lot of it, too, was just progressing through the thirds. They came out and were trying to concede a lot, and we did a great job of off-ball movement to create much more space."

Logan Custis opened the scoring for Central after collecting a loose ball and rifling it past South keeper Aiden Mitchell. Custis had another grade-A chance just minutes after his first marker, but the ball took a last-second hop and he was unable to get a clean shot away.

Still, the opening goal did its damage and was enough fuel for Central to take over.

"We just had to lay it all out in the first five minutes," said junior forward Owen Black, who finished with a pair of goals. "(That was how we were able to) get a great start."

Central added two more goals over the back half of the first half. Black added his first goal in the 24th after cleaning up a rebound on a shot by Sammy Shumway. After having two dangerous scoring chances of his own, Shumway added to Central's lead in the 30th off a beautiful assist from Samuel Lucas Smith.

Black added one more goal with just under five minutes left in the second half, when he headed in a throw in from Smith.

"It's absolutely a team sport, and I couldn't do it without my team, especially with that throw in from Sam," Black said. "We've really been working on that in practices and being able to utilize our boys who can throw that thing 25-35 yards."

The Bison made a press over the final 20 minutes of the match, but were unable to break through the Indians' defense. Despite that, South coach Joshua Eastman said he was proud of how his team responded in the second half, especially after being punched in the mouth in the first half.

"Our wing backs got a little nervous pressing up high offensively in the first half," the coach said. "I knew we needed to mirror Central's 4-3-3 attack if we were going to have some success against them, and in the second half, our wing backs found some courage and played into that space more, which forced their defenders to man-mark more."

While Central's forwards feasted in the offensive end, its defense continued to make life difficult on South. After giving up its first goal in over 500 minutes of game time in their previous outing, the Indians locked in on the defensive end once more.

They allowed just five shot attempts in the contest, only two of which made it on net. Central also held South without a shot attempt in the first half and only allowed the Bison to possess the ball in the attacking end for about 15 seconds.

"We have a lot of old guys back there that have seen and experienced a lot," Dijkstal said. "It's really nice delight to not have to worry about that."

Central takes on Cheyenne East at Okie Blanchard Stadium on Wednesday, while South hosts Campbell County on Friday.

CENTRAL 4, SOUTH 0

Halftime: Central 3-0.

Goals: Central, Custis (unassisted) 2, Central, Black (Shumway), 24, Central, Shumway (Smith), 30, Central, Black (Smith), 45.

Shots: Central 18, South 5. Shots on goal: Central 9, South 2. Saves: Central (Somerset 1, Longbottom 1), South (Mitchell 5).

Corner kicks: Central 6, South 2. Offsides: Central 5, South 0. Fouls: Central 6, South 5. Yellow cards: Central 2, South 1.

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