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South's Cortez scores late to force draw with Central

Apr. 13—CHEYENNE — Sometimes, all a team needs is one fortunate bounce.

In the 77th minute of Cheyenne South's matchup with Cheyenne Central on Friday, the Bison got the bounce they needed.

After a foul was called on Central about 30 yards away from the goal, the Bison were given a free kick opportunity. The ensuing kick bounced off the hands of Central goalkeeper Jenna Feldmann and pin-balled around the crease until it found its way to Emma Cortez.

Cortez got the final touch on the chance to tie the match. The late marker was enough to force a 1-1 draw.

"I'm glad they listened to what we talked about at halftime," South coach Brandon McHenry said. "I thought in the first half we were scrambling because it's Central and it's a big game. We kind of lost our heads, and we talked about settling down and getting possession in the second half.

"We followed our principles and the things we have been talking about, and it worked out."

Despite allowing the final goal which prevented her team from winning the match, Central coach Kaylin Olivas was pleased with the way the team played throughout the contest.

"I'm happy with the response, getting a goal and a lot of things," the coach said. "We saw, this weekend in general, there are still some things we need to work on, but I'm happy with the progress we have made.

"We were a different team this week, and I'm seeing progress, which is awesome."

Junior forward Carmen Tafoya got the Indians going in the 16th minute. Tafoya received a beautiful pass from Madi Moore behind the defense and found herself one-on-one with South keeper Gabby Cortez. Tafoya chipped the ball past Gabby Cortez to give Central the 1-0 lead.

Central dominated time of possession in the first half, notching eight shot attempts, including six on net. South recorded three shot attempts through the first 40 minutes, and its only shot on frame came from 45 yards out on a free kick.

"(We were) actually being calm on the ball, which is something we have been working on in practice," Olivas said. "For me, it's being able to recognize the moments, and I thought they were recognizing the moments today."

Despite being heavily out-shot through the first 77 minutes, South managed to stay in the game thanks to Gabby Cortez's play in net. In the first half, she made a save on Ava Newton late, followed by two more difficult saves in the second half to keep Central's lead at one.

The goalkeeper credits her work in the winter for helping her come up with the critical saves.

"(I had a lot of help) in the winter on positioning myself," Gabby Cortez said. "We worked a lot on positioning myself and staying on my feet and catching it (rather than diving)."

It was those key saves that gave South time to get its offense going, according to McHenry.

"Gabby keeps us in the game," the coach said. "She had phenomenal saves and a couple good touches. She really commands the backline, which is nice."

Central is back in action again Wednesday against Cheyenne East, while South plays Campbell County next Friday in Gillette.

CENTRAL 1, SOUTH 1

Halftime: Central 1-0.

Goals: Central, Tafoya (Moore) 16, South, E. Cortez (unassisted), 77.

Shots: Central 13, South 7. Shots on goal: Central 9, South 5. Saves: Central (Feldmann) 4, South (G. Cortez) 8.

Corner kicks: Central 4, South 2. Offsides: Central 2, South. Fouls: Central 8, South 7. Yellow cards: Central 1, (Perriton, 63).

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Matt Atencio covers Laramie County prep sports for WyoSports. He can be reached at matencio@wyosports.net. Follow him on X at @MattAtencio5.