SHERIDAN – The Torrington Trailblazers boys soccer team advanced to the state championship game for the first time in school history, falling one goal short in a 1-0 loss Saturday against Cody in Sheridan.
The Blazers gave up a goal in the 14th minute against the Broncos and were unable to recover. Torrington couldn’t muster an equalizer, despite having several chances.
“We had some amazing looks but we couldn’t get anything to fall,” coach Jeshua Arnusch said. “We really controlled the last 20 minutes of the game and the boys fought as hard as they could. I was really proud of them.”
The Blazers had a solid look in the final moments of the game, but could not convert.
“Unfortunately, our last ditch effort bounced off of the post and right past the foot of our backside player,” Arnusch said. “We were literally inches away from tying the game and bringing our momentum into overtime.”
Torrington 2, Worland 1 OT
After giving up an equalizer in the 77th minute of the semi-finals Friday, the Blazers bounced back and A.J. Shields recorded a goal in the second period of extra time. Garrett Cooper provided the feed to Shields, who took the ball on a breakaway and found the back of the net.
“I just saw that there was no one in the gap or anything and I saw Cooper play me the ball and I knew that was my chance to end the game right there and I took it,” Shields said.
Although there were three total goals, the first half was played to a 0-0 stalemate.
“The first half we were doing anything we could to hang on and we ended up going into halftime tied up at 0-0,” Arnusch said. “We had never seen triangles the way that Worland was running with their outside backs and it really tossed us a curveball but we were able to make some second-half adjustments and we came out firing.”
Starting the scoring off, Nathan Stitt fired a shot to the top-right corner of the goal, putting Torrington up 1-0 in the 62nd minute. The Blazers outshot the Warriors 16-4 in the second half. One of Worland’s goals came on a ball that slipped to the backside of the goal. Worland’s goal came in the 77th minute, tying the game up.
“I was preparing for extra time right away,” Shields said about the goal in the final three minutes. “I knew no matter what, these guys were not going to give up until that last whistle blows and that’s exactly what they did.”
Tyler Ring recorded nine saves in the win over Worland.
Torrington 3, Buffalo 0
On Thursday, the Blazers started off their run to the championship game with a physical 3-0 win over Buffalo.
“Today was a very physical game. I thought we played well, especially in the midfield and defensively,” Arnusch said. “The game was definitely as physical as we anticipated and I thought we did a good job of showing our muscle, while maintaining possession.”
Devin Flores got the scoring started for Torrington, netting a goal in the 10th minute.
“One player I thought stepped up immensely was Devin Flores,” Arnusch said. “He scored his first goal of the season and had some other beautiful looks. Buffalo really wanted to stop Nathan and Devin took advantage of how much space they gave him.”
Although Buffalo made attempts to slow down Stitt, he found the back of the net, scoring in the 32nd minute, putting the Blazers up 2-0. Link Jirasart added to the scoring, recording a goal in the 45th minute. Stitt and Flores each had an assist in the win.
The Blazers racked up 21 shots, while Buffalo had 11. Ring had three saves against the Bison.
Torrington finished the season with a 16-4 record. The Blazer boys are the first Torrington soccer team to reach the state championship game in school history. Despite losing five starters due to graduation, the Blazers are looking to carry success into next season.
“Our goal is still to bring home a state championship and we will begin working on it again shortly – after we enjoy the success of this past season,” Arnusch said.