CHEYENNE — Without Caleb Pushcar, the Cheyenne East boys soccer team wouldn’t have gotten a win over cross-town rival Cheyenne Central.
And without some fortuitous bounces, Pushcar wouldn’t have been able to make a play for his team.
“I know there’s luck in soccer,” Pushcar said with a smile following a 3-2 Thunderbirds’ win on Friday.
Trailing 2-0 in the first half, Pushcar sparked East’s rally when he fired off a shot at the 32nd minute that some would call lucky. After Central goalie James Segrave came away from the net to make a stop, Pushcar collected the rebound and fired it back towards the net. The ball appeared to glance off Segrave’s foot and roll into the net, cutting the deficit in half.
The strange plays were far from over.
Early in the second half, Pushcar was the only East player down around the goal when a ball came back towards Segrave. Three Central defenders tried to shield him off from the ball as the goalie came out to scoop it up. Instead of an easy play, the ball took a high bounce off the ground, allowing Pushcar to jump up and get a head on the ball. With Segrave out of the net, the shot rolled about 15 feet on the ground and into the net for game-tying goal.
“That second goal, when it was bouncing, I just took advantage of it and got the header,” Pushcar said. “I felt I could. I was pretty close to the goal.”
East coach Steve Carroll knows just fickle Lady Luck can be on a team. In a game against Scottsbluff, Neb., earlier in the week, the Thunderbirds fell victim to several missed opportunities that hit the post or sailed just wide.
The scoring wasn’t exactly how they drew it up but it still counted and that’s all that matters.
“Soccer’s so difficult to score. It is, it’s luck,” Carroll said. “We got the lucky bounce. You take your good and your bad.”
With a pair of games on the road next week at Gillette and defending Class 4A state champion Sheridan, the East boys’ road isn’t getting any easier.
Pushcar is hoping Friday’s result will the tonic his teammates need to get fired up for those games and put up a good showing. If nothing else, he’s definitely ready for the challenge.
“It gets me fired up. That’s for sure,” Pushcar said.