The Star Valley fans rode a wave of euphoria after the Lady Braves endured overtime with the Cody Fillies and came out victorious with a shootout, but then felt the sting of defeat after the Braves saw a well-played match go to the Worland Warriors on a well-placed goal.
Lady Braves: 3 Cody Fillies: 2 (Shootout 3-0)
Star Valley jumped out a 1-0 lead as Kenedey Brog beat the Cody keeper, Raven Johnson, in the 11th minute off an assist from Bailey Sharpe. The Fillies tied the match in the 26th minute with a header set up by a free kick. Less than a minute later, sophomore Madi Klein got past the Cody defense to finish with her right foot and the Lady Braves took a 2-1 lead into the half.
The Fillies were the aggressors to begin the second half and spread out the Star Valley defense to score the equalizer in the 48th minute. Each team had other opportunities to score late in the match but the action eventually went to overtime where neither team scored in the two mandated 10-minute periods.
With shootouts come drama, but it was quickly diffused as the Lady Braves scored on their first three shooters with Klein, Brog and Sarah Walker all scoring. Cody went wide left with their first shot and had their second attempt snuffed out by Star Valley keeper, Rylee Burmester. With pressure mounting, the third shot was off the crossbar as Star Valley claimed the 3-0 shootout win. It is the third consecutive season that the Lady Braves have defeated the Fillies at the state tournament.
“We played a quality team in Cody,” said head coach Sandy Buckstaff. “But our depth by the end of the game wore them down. We had practiced our shots from the mark this past week and nine out of ten scored so I was confident we would do well. Seventy percent of right-footed shooters go left so that’s the reason I had Madi [Klein] go first; she’s left footed and it helped us get that first goal.”
It is the third straight time the Lady Braves have advanced to the semi-finals. They have gone 1-1 in the past two seasons. They will now face the Lander Tigers at 2 p.m. on Field 4 on Friday afternoon.
Braves: 0 Warriors: 1
The two teams met on May 2, in Worland with a 3-2 Star Valley victory in overtime. There was no such offensive fireworks this time. The action was physical and the officials whistled the Braves for 18 fouls in the match. Both teams had very close calls but Star Valley rolled up nearly 30 shots without being able to find the back of the net. The Warriors scored the game winner on a perfectly set up header in the 77th minute to advance to the semifinals.
“I thought the boys played really well,” said head coach Chris Abrams. “I thought we did a good job of controlling the ball but that’s soccer. You can dominate a game but then something like that can happen. You just have to tip your hat and move on to the next one. I’m proud of the boys with the way they competed today.”
The Braves will now move over to the consolation bracket where they will face the Cody Broncs who fell to the Torrington Trailblazers 1-0. Star Valley defeated Cody 2-0 on the Afton field but the match in Cody was cancelled due to weather conditions. The match will take place at 11 a.m. on Field 4 next to Jackson Hole High School. Star Valley teams will play back to back with a session intermission in-between.
“I told [the guys] we still have a chance to finish our season with a couple of wins,” Abrams added. “This is a group of seniors who have worked very hard to get to this point. They have had a successful career and we need to work hard to finish out and take home that consolation trophy.”