Late goal, stingy defense lift East to win over Sheridan

Apr. 27—CHEYENNE — Haley Pierson and Jordan Griess grew up playing together on Cheyenne Sting's competitive youth soccer teams.

They continued being Sting teammates each fall, even after they suited up for Cheyenne East's varsity squad as freshmen. They have developed quite a bit of on-field chemistry during that time, and it was on display late in East's matchup with Sheridan on Saturday morning.

In the 76th minute, Pierson fought off a defender at midfield, carried the ball a few more touches and then set a pass into the attacking third as Griess made a diagonal run from the left side to the middle of the field. Pierson's pass got past the Broncs' defenders and left Griess one-on-one with goalkeeper Kelanie Lamb.

Griess pushed a shot past Lamb and into the net for the only goal in a 1-0 victory at Okie Blanchard Stadium.

"I saw her making a run, so I took another touch into some space and tried to find her quickly," Pierson said. "We've played together for so long that we know where the other one is going to be. That was one of those plays that shows the chemistry we've built."

Griess described the ball as perfectly placed.

"I just had to take one or two touches and put it in," she said.

The Thunderbirds (4-4-4 overall, 2-4-4 Class 4A East Conference) had been creating scoring opportunities throughout the second half, but Sheridan recovered and thwarted the attack before a strong shot could be taken. East kept attacking because it was confident the Broncs couldn't stop every effort.

"We knew we just had to keep chipping away, even if the first few chances didn't come," Griess said. "We couldn't lay down. We had to keep working at it."

East nearly had a goal late in the first half.

Griess sent a corner kick from the right side past Lamb and toward the far post. The ball started to curl toward the goal and hit Sheridan defender Bailey Bennick, who was standing on the goal line. Bennick kicked the ball out of trouble and sent the teams into the locker room tied 0-0.

"That was frustrating," Griess said with a smile. "I thought I had a goal, and (Bennick) just came out of nowhere."

East put seven of its 12 shots on goal. That volume of quality chances can be attributed to the T-Birds becoming more comfortable in a new scheme.

"They're playing into that system and finding opportunities," East coach Rebecca Valdez said. "We weren't scoring goals earlier in the year, and then we had some injuries and other personnel changes, so we decided to tweak our system.

"They're starting to do a good job with it."

All four of Sheridan's shots were on goal and all came from well outside the penalty area, leaving East senior keeper Aryana Booth with easy saves. The most threatened East felt came late when junior Avery McMullen found space in the left side of the penalty area. She danced around a few East defenders before being swarmed and having the ball cleared.

"We wanted to stay central and limit their chances by stepping to the ball quick," East senior defender Kailey Williams said. "We did a good job of staying composed and delaying in the middle to keep them from getting splits into the box.

"It really helped us to step to the ball early, because it forced them to shoot from farther back."


Halftime: 0-0.

Goal: East, J. Griess (Pierson), 76.

Shots: Sheridan 4, East 12. Shots on goal: Sheridan 4, East 7. Saves: Sheridan 6 (Lamb 5, Bennick 1); East 4 (Booth).

Corner kicks: Sheridan 0, East 5. Offsides: Sheridan 2, East 0. Fouls: Sheridan 9, East 13. Yellow cards: East 1 (Paskett, 73).

Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at or 307-633-3137. Follow him on X at @jjohnke.