Blazers fall in 3A state title match


CHEYENNE – Four years ago, when the Torrington Blazer soccer season came to an end in Jackson, THS coach Gabe Bartlett knew by the time the group of freshmen were seniors, they’d have a shot at a state championship.

The group as seniors, made it to the state championship match on Saturday afternoon at Cheyenne South High School, but the Blazers ran into the buzz saw that is the Worland Warriors.

After not allowing a goal through the first two rounds at the 3A State Soccer Tournament, things quickly got out of hand in the title game.

“I was hoping we would see similar against Worland, but they have a little more skill than the other two teams we played,” THS coach Gabe Bartlett said. “If you make a mistake against Worland, they are going to make you pay for it.”

It took less than two minutes into the match before the Warriors took their first shot attempt, and 10 minutes into the match for Worland to score its first goal.

“The Powell game played into it. We fired our shot against Powell,” Bartlett said. “It was our first state championship game, and Worland, it was their fourth in a row. We came out shell-shocked.”

It was the first of seven the now four-time defending class 3A state championships would pour into the Torrington goal in a 7-0 loss.

Worland netted five in the first half and two in the second half, with the final goal coming on a penalty kick in the 73rd minute.

Torrington 2, Lander Valley 0

“Before the tournament, we talked about how Lander mirrors us,” Bartlett said. “It was a pretty tough game, but we got it done.”

In the opening round, Lander Valley had the wind to its back, but the defense and Blazer goalkeeper Kyler Shields held them scoreless.

It wasn’t until Torrington had the aid of the stiff west wind when they got on the scoreboard.

“We knew if we could hold out with the other team having the wind, we felt like we could score on anybody,” Bartlett said.

In the 52nd minute, THS senior Deagan Keith connected on a shot over the head of the Tiger goalie from nearly 40 yards out.

Senior Chase Miller added the second and final goal of the match in the 63rd minute.

The win advanced the Blazers to the semifinal round, setting up a rematch with the Powell Panthers, who handed Torrington its first loss of the season back on March 26.

Torrington 1, Powell 0

Torrington was able to avenge the early season loss with a 1-0 victory.

“That was quite a game. It was intense all the way throughout,” Bartlett said. “We had a really high number of yellow cards. We were very aggressive going at them.”

It took nearly the entire match to finally break through and find the back of the net.

With three minutes left in the game, Miller connected on a shot which Bartlett described as, “One of the prettier shots we’ve had all year, if not the prettiest.”

“It was windy that day too, but not nearly as windy as the Lander game,” Bartlett added. “It was a punted ball that came down, and a Powell kid put a touch on it. It went right to Chase. It was an awesome shot from about 20 yards out.”

It was all it took for the Blazers to move past Powell and advance to the championship.

Torrington didn’t give Powell any more chances after that.

The win advanced the Blazers to their first state championship game since the 2017 when THS lost to Cody 1-0 in Sheridan.

The Blazers ended the season with a 13-5 record.

Torrington will lose 11 seniors this year, but Bartlett said the future is bright.

“Going into state our second team held their own against our starting 11. That is exciting. We won’t be as fast, but with the kids coming up and maybe some freshmen coming in, we’ll maybe a little more skilled across the field,” Bartlett said. “I’m really proud of the seniors. We all knew when they were seniors, we would have a shot to win it or at least get there. They went out and did it. They were in a state championship game, and it just wasn’t our day. Those days happen, but it’s been a pleasure coaching those seniors and watching them grow and develop year in and year out.”

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