Own goal lifts Cheyenne Central boys over Cheyenne East

Apr. 18—CHEYENNE — Most matches, Samuel Lucas Smith would have passed the ball for a teammate to run onto for a more dangerous shot.

On Wednesday, with zeroes on the scoreboard, time running down and the wind at his back Smith decided to take a chance and fire a shot toward goal. It worked out for Cheyenne Central.

A Cheyenne East defender lifted his leg and tried to use his heel to send the ball back down field. Instead, the ball ricocheted off the defender, past East goalkeeper Jaxon Miller and into the goal in the 68th minute.

"Our play style is usually to play that last pass to a forward for a higher-percentage shot, but things weren't falling for us, so I just cranked one that went off a defender and in," Smith said. "It was a tough game.

"Our movement up top wasn't what it needed to be, and we had some communication errors in the first half. We had to start keeping our heads up, recognizing each other and connecting as a unit."

Shots were scarce in the second meeting between cross-town rivals this spring.

Central (7-0 overall, 5-0 Class 4A East Conference) got just three shots in the first half while East (4-3, 2-3) got two. The Indians held a 2-1 edge in shots on goal in the opening 40 minutes.

"It was a wonky game and we didn't play the way we wanted or to what we game planned for," second-year Central coach Dirk Dijkstal said. "Because of the weather, we weren't able to get guys off the bench and get what we wanted accomplished. You'd get a guy off the bench and it would take them a while to get warmed up.

"We didn't play very well, but East is a well-coached team and really improved from the first time we played them. They took us out of the game for a long time. These games are emotion-driven and it took us about 20 minutes to get over that and get going."

Smith had the best scoring opportunity of the first half when Sammy Shumway carried the ball into the right side of the penalty area before sliding a pass to Smith in front of the goal. Smith fired on Miller from point-blank range but was turned away.

East got consecutive corner kicks in the 40th minute. Central sophomore goalkeeper Leo Somerset played the first one from Hunter Sallee over the crossbar and out for another corner from the other side. The second effort from Liam Taylor angled toward the top of the 18 and out of harm's way.

"We were a little tentative in the attack during the first half," first-year East coach Alex Stratton said. "We were looking for the final through-ball instead of taking some chances at the goal. ... We've been really dangerous with set pieces.

"The kids understand where to put the ball and we have great kids who can flight a ball in and some who can finish. We have to capitalize on those set pieces. That's where you're most dangerous in high school soccer."

The Indians started the second half quickly, getting a pair of shots from senior forward Logan Custis. The first came close to the frame and was saved by Miller. In the 43rd, Custis blistered a shot wide of the far post from the right side.

Central got 11 shots in the second half, while East had three. The Indians put four of those chances on goal to East's two.

"For the past week, we've been working on defense," Taylor said. "We worked on tracking back, covering our runs and trying to get the ball forward and playing balls in. Our defense held up pretty good for most of the night."


Halftime: 0-0.

Goal: Central, own goal, 68.

Shots: Central 14, East 4. Shots on goal: Central 6, East 3. Saves: Central 3 (Somerset); East 5 (Miller).

Corner kicks: Central 6, East 3. Offsides: Central 2, East 0. Fouls: Central 11, East 9. Yellow cards: Central 2 (SL Smith, 39. SL Smith, 74); East 2 (Rich, 39. Pena, 56). Red cards: Central 1 (SL Smith, 74).

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