Gritty effort lifts Central boys over Laramie

May 1—CHEYENNE — Samuel Lucas Smith was among the Cheyenne Central seniors recognized at halftime of Wednesday night's match with visiting Laramie.

Each of the boys was asked to list their favorite memory and personal highlight from their Indians' career. Smith's highlight was the match he scored a header goal and assisted on a header goal.

On Wednesday, Smith did the latter to give the Indians breathing room in the second half of a 3-1 victory over the Plainsmen at Riske Field.

Laramie had cut the deficit to 2-1 by the time Central was awarded a direct kick from 50 yards out near the right sideline. Smith struck a ball into the left side of the penalty area that found the head of Logan Custis, who struck it past Laramie goalkeeper Declan O'Conner for an insurance goal that extended the lead to 3-1.

Custis said the goal was him making up for an earlier miss.

"(Smith) had two of those balls that were perfectly placed," Custis said. "The first one, I didn't get too much of a head on it and it went off to the side. The second one, I got the whole thing and put it in the back of the net.

"It was the exact same ball on the exact same side. They were beautiful balls."

The Indians (12-1 overall, 10-1 Class 4A East Conference) needed a very workmanlike effort to overcome one of their most up-and-down performances of the season.

"We didn't play particularly well and had a pretty poor defensive performance, but we were able to shore up and play a lot of effort-based soccer to get back into it," second-year Central coach Dirk Dijkstal said. "We let our guard down, and Laramie capitalized on it. You learn from these games."

The match was littered with missed opportunities for the Plainsmen (6-4-3, 4-4-3).

In the seventh minute, Karson Busch sent a hard, right-footed shot off the left upright. Paulo Mellizo had a direct kick from 29 yards that forced Central goalkeeper Leo Somerset to jump and parry the ball over the crossbar for a corner kick.

"We had two good chances early that came back to haunt us," Laramie coach Andy Pannell said. "Then, we gave up the first goal that I didn't think was a particularly good chance. That was frustrating, so I got on the guys a little bit at halftime.

"I switched up the formation and we pressed up a little bit higher on the field. We at least made a game out of it in the second half. It was a great effort. The guys showed a lot of fight, a lot of toughness and a lot of heart."

Central got on the scoreboard in the eighth minute when Cooper Bush ran between two Laramie defenders, caught up to a long pass from Custis and put a shot past O'Conner. In the 33rd, Central junior defender Nate Brenchley sent a no-look pass to his left to Custis. Custis touched the ball wide to get space on a Plainsmen defender before spinning to his right and ripping a shot to the left upright for a 2-0 lead.

"I was calling for the ball, but I didn't think (Brenchley) heard me," Custis said. "He played a pretty ball, I took a touch and scored. It was a perfect ball by Nate."

Added Pannell: "That dude's turn on the second goal was brilliant. That was the play of the night."

Laramie cut the lead to 2-1 in the 50th. Busch was played the ball on a short corner kick and ripped a hard shot that required Somerset to dive to his left for a save. The rebound went directly to Tyler Ennist, who converted the opportunity.

"(Ennist) has two goals against Central this year, and they both came in similar fashion," Pannell said. "He did what he's supposed to in that spot."


Halftime: 2-0.

Goals: Central, Busch (Custis), 8. Central, Custis (Brenchley), 33. Laramie, Ennist (unassisted), 50. Central, Custis (SL Smith), 63.

Shots: Laramie 9, Central 15. Shot on goal: Laramie 6, Central 9. Saves: Laramie 6 (O'Conner); Central 5 (Somerset).

Corner kicks: Laramie 4, Central 2. Offsides: Laramie 0, Central 1. Fouls: Laramie 7, Central 6. Yellow cards: Laramie (Bench, 69.)

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