After a season in which the Cody boys soccer team shrugged off the rust from losing a season to the pandemic and earned a berth at the state tournament, the Broncs were eliminated after losing matches against Torrington and Riverton.
Torrington 5, Cody 1
The state tournament in Cheyenne started Thursday, with the fourth-seeded Broncs taking on the east side of the state’s top seed, Torrington, and losing 5-1.
Cody has played few teams from the East this season, but the early returns looked promising. The Broncs scored on a goal by junior C.J. Dominick in the first 10 minutes of the match and the team looked poised to make a run into the second round, but it didn’t last.
Torrington was credited with a goal not long after, a situation where keeper Ian Balyo was holding the ball over his head and the side referee said it crossed the plane of the goal.
“Ian tried to argue his case but (the referees) just weren’t having it,” coach Randy Rockey said.
Junior forward Jackson Gail got his second yellow card early in the second half, eliminating him from the rest of the tournament and forcing his teammates to play down a man the entire second half.
“We came out really strong,” senior midfielder Wyatt Becker said. “We were playing really well, we mentally just dropped off. We just kind of had a mental break that was kind of team-wide. It just sucks, there’s not much you can do about it anymore and it happened.”
Riverton 2, Cody 1 (OT)
After being knocked out of the winners bracket the day before, the Broncs took the field against Riverton in the consolation bracket. The boys fell to the Wolverines in overtime, 2-1.
Riverton came out with a heavy defensive look, packing its side of the field with defenders and allowing nothing easy to get through its lines.
“They put everyone behind the ball,” Rockey said. “They played us pretty tight. It was a battle back and forth.”
After both teams probed but could get nothing going on offense for most of the first half, senior Wyatt Becker found a seam and took a pass from sophomore Matt Nelson, putting it into the back of the net in the 39th minute.
“That was awesome,” Becker said. “I was playing a new position. I filled in for Jackson for some of the game, then switched back to my regular outside mid position … My cousin is one of the coaches for Riverton, so it’s a little extra competition.”
It looked like the score would stay 1-0 for the remainder. Balyo was tested time and again in goal and was able to fend off difficult shots from all over the pitch.
As the game was winding down, a penalty in the box put Balyo in one of the most difficult situations in all of soccer. With two minutes left to play, the penalty kick left a Wolverine boot and Balyo was able to block it but couldn’t collect the ball. The Wolverines finished the rebound and a several minutes-long discussion about the rules ensued among the referees. They eventually put a point on the board for Riverton, and the Wolverines took the momentum with them into the overtime periods.
Neither team could get much going in the early part of OT. Each had a few shots, but nothing that came off cleanly until the Riverton defense cleared a ball up the field in the second OT. The Broncs were caught out of position and a Wolverine streaked up the sideline with the ball to go one-on-one with Balyo again. This time, no rebound was needed. They chipped the ball over Balyo in the 96th minute to give Riverton the win.
“I think Riverton just came out a little more aggressive,” said sophomore defender Remy Broussard. “They had a few extra subs than we did, as well as the momentum of the game was in their favor.”
The Broncs finished the year with a final record of 9-9.
“This team, I think they exceeded expectations,” Rockey said. “We started the season with a 9-1 loss and we didn’t know which way we would go. We grew and we improved and got better … It was a fun season. I had a blast coaching all of them.”