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Romero's late goal pushes Laramie over South

Apr. 24—LARAMIE — The No. 3-ranked Laramie girls soccer team experienced a challenging first half before breaking through in the final minutes against Cheyenne South on Tuesday at Deti Stadium.

Plainsmen sophomore Devani Romero corralled a pass from freshman Sia Taufa and subsequently saw Laramie's best chance of the day. Romero blasted the ball through the middle of the field, with South goalkeeper sophomore Gabby Cortez unable to save the shot in the 75th minute.

"Sia worked hard to get that ball in," Romero said. "She crossed it to me and I took a close touch and settled it to shoot. I was hoping to get my team up one and gain some confidence back.

"It lifted all of our spirits. Everyone's energy level went up, and it felt like we were playing as a team."

Cortez had racked up 11 saves up until Romero's game-winning goal. The Plainsmen tallied 20 shots, with 14 on net in the game.

"(Cortez) played well," South coach Brandon McHenry said. "The defense played well, it's just the midfield stopped working for 30 seconds and allowed a girl to get wide open on top of the (18-yard line). It took us too long to switch off, and she got the shot off."

Injuries forced the Plainsmen to play multiple players at unusual positions. The changes seemed to cause confusion early, as Laramie was a step behind the Bison in getting to loose balls and knowing where to be defensively.

"We're battling a few injuries and trying to piece together players in different positions," Laramie coach Kim Whisenant said. "We started slow again, and when we finally started to turn it on in the second half, we were playing as a team."

The Bison got off the same amount of shots as the Plainsmen in the first half (seven), but the quality of the shots was higher. South threatened on multiple free kicks in the final 20 minutes of the first frame, resulting in several balls off the hands of Laramie goalkeeper McKenna Barham.

"Each level played well," McHenry said. "We played our game. A hard brutal switch off in the final five minutes killed us."

South entered the game looking to take away the middle of the field — similar to how Campbell County played in a 2-0 win against Laramie last week — and did so effectively in the first half. The Bison were also physical with four fouls.

"We wanted to hold the ball a little more, and that gave us some success and some opportunities that we haven't been able to build (this season)," McHenry said.

In the second half, Whisenant knew she had to make changes. She shifted her formation so the Plainsmen would mark players closer.

"I started my team off (in the second half) in places where they couldn't pass the ball through as easily, and that helped a lot," Whisenant said.

Laramie prepared for a Bison team that played scrappy and refused to lay down. That is exactly what Laramie got, Whisenant said.

"They work hard and they do a great job with personnel," the coach added. "I knew we'd need to come out and be strong enough to dictate play. We knew we couldn't let them dictate the rhythm of the game."

The Plainsmen (8-3 overall, 8-1 Class 4A East Conference) will return to action on the road against Thunder Basin (4-3-3, 3-3-2) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Gillette.

The Bison (2-7-2, 1-7-2) will play the Bolts at 6 p.m. Friday, also in Gillette.

LARAMIE 1, SOUTH 0

Halftime: 0-0.

Goals: Laramie, Romero (Taufa) 75.

Shots: Laramie 20, South 8. Shots on goal: Laramie 14, South 7. Saves: Laramie (Barham) 6, South (G. Cortez) 12.

Corner kicks: Laramie 4, South 1. Offsides: Laramie 3, South 0. Fouls: Laramie 7, South 8.

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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.