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LHS' Busch scores twice in draw with Sheridan

Apr. 20—Defensive miscues in the final minutes caused a 2-2 draw for the Laramie High boys soccer team against No. 4-ranked Sheridan on Friday night at Deti Stadium.

The results of the first half were nearly the same from the draw the teams had in March, but a goal from LHS' Karson Busch in the 40th minute gave the Plainsmen a 1-0 lead. Busch's shot was also the first and only LHS attempt of the half.

"Kai (Boyer) got the ball around the forty and put a beautiful ball over the top," Busch said. "It landed right at my feet, and I was able to knock it in."

Sheridan out-shot Laramie 11-1 over the first 45 minutes of action, with four attempts on goal. Plainsmen goalkeeper Declan O'Connor had four saves in perhaps his best half of the season, according to coach Andy Pannell.

"Declan had a good night," the coach added. "On the whole, our defensive effort was excellent. Other than that three minute stretch that killed us."

The first of the Broncs' shot attempts came in the 10th minute, and the chances provided a plethora of close calls. The closest came with just under 20 minutes remaining, when a throw in from senior Connor Bateson nearly landed a clean look off the foot of senior Dane Steel.

Laramie's backline closed in on the attempt before Steel could get the shot off. Later in the frame, Bateson attempted to score on a free kick from 20 yards out, but O'Connor got his hands on the ball.

The Plainsmen started the second half quicker, maneuvering the ball into Sheridan's box twice in the first nine minutes of play. Junior Paulo Mellizo crossed a pass near the net that found Busch; however, the Broncs' backline closed before the shot could be fired.

Ten minutes later, Mellizo put another pass into the perfect spot, finding teammate junior Sammy Heaney in the box. Heaney was fouled after receiving the pass, and Pannell elected to have Busch take the ensuing penalty kick.

He converted for his second goal of the night, giving Laramie a 2-0 cushion. Busch takes a planned approach to penalty kicks by baiting the keeper in one direction.

"I tend to hesitate and see if he bites one way or the other," Busch said. "He didn't, and when they stay like he did, I like to go left."

The Plainsmen defense controlled the game until the final 10 minutes of play. Down 2-0, Sheridan went into do-or-die mode.

"We changed our centerback pairing (prior to the game)," Pannell said. "We now have Catcher Pannell and Kai Boyer instead of Diego Villasenor and Tyler Ennist. They are still working some things out, but I thought Diego had a strong second half."

The Broncs turned the pressure up down the stretch. As a result, Sheridan scored two goals in the final five minutes to erase LHS' lead.

The first came in an unlikely scenario where junior Ty Gilbertson surprisingly got a shot off through a cluster of bodies after a pass from teammate junior Kelten Crow fell near the goal. The ball didn't have much velocity, but crept past O'Connor in the 85th minute.

In the 87th, Crow won a one-on-one against the Plainsmen's backline. With only O'Connor to beat, Crow cashed in and tied the game.

"We didn't change a lot," Sheridan coach Wade Kinsey said. "We got down and switched our formation. It doesn't matter if you lose by more. We put more pressure up top and kept doing what we had been. We felt we had plenty of chances early, but couldn't convert."

Laramie (4-3-2 overall, 2-3-2 Class 4A East conference) will stay at home to host Campbell County (3-5-1, 2-5) noon Saturday inside Deti Stadium.

"We have to continue to defend," Pannell said. "We lost a bit of composure, and I feel like our back four can play a little better then they did today. We can take a few more shots, but I thought we played a great game.

"We took a step forward and looked more organized. Sometimes, a tie feels like a win, and sometimes, it feels like a loss. This felt like a loss, but Sheridan is one of the best teams in the state and we were right there with them."

LARAMIE 2, SHERIDAN 2

Halftime: Laramie 1-0.

Goals: Laramie, Busch (Boyer), 40. Laramie, Busch (unassisted) 69, Sheridan, Gilbertson (Crow) 85, Sheridan, Crow (unassisted) 87.

Shots: Laramie 6, Sheridan 17. Shots on goal: Laramie 4, Sheridan 6. Saves: Laramie 6 (O'Connor); Sheridan 3 (Haswell).

Corner kicks: Laramie 1, Sheridan 5. Offsides: Laramie 0, Sheridan 0. Fouls: Laramie 10, Sheridan 10.

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Austin Edmonds covers Laramie High, University of Wyoming and community athletics for WyoSports. He can be reached at aedmonds@wyosports.net. Follow him on X at @_austinedmonds.