CHEYENNE — The Cheyenne Central girls lingered around Okie Blanchard Stadium on Friday night. Parents and friends trickled down from the stands providing hugs and handshakes in celebration of the 3-1 win over Cheyenne East.
The smiles and congratulations were everywhere. Not even Auri Mermelia’s chipped tooth could dampen the mood (She chipped the tooth during the final team huddle when someone brought the trophy down into her mouth).
“It feels pretty good to get (the Christa McAuliffe memorial trophy) back because I know we lost it last year and it’s pretty tough to see the seniors afterwards. It didn’t feel right,” senior defender Karlie Schultz said. “But it’s good have it back. We played really well.”
Friday’s win evened the regular season series between the rivals at one-game apiece. East won the first matchup at Central 2-1 back on March 23 but the Lady Indians earned the traveling rivalry trophy presented to the winning team of the second game of the season.
For the year, the Lady Thunderbirds had only given up seven goals coming into Friday’s game and no team had scored more than two against them. The win also snapped a three-game East win streak while Central extended its streak to three games.
Central MVP Christie Schiel came up with a goal and a defensive header that prevented East from scoring a goal in the first half. She was one of many players who came up with a big moment to earn the win.
“It’s so much hard work coming up to this moment and it just feels good. We pulled it together as a team,” Schiel said. “It was a little rough there but we worked hard for each other and that’s what it came down to. I think at the end, we knew we could count on each other for the win.”
The regular season rivalry between the cross-town schools is over. But there is still a huge chance their battles of the field aren’t.
Central and East could meet again at regionals and even at the state tournament. Central coach Scott Foster realizes the battle between these two teams could be far from over. But he’s still hoping his seniors savor the victory, at least for a little while.
“We’ll probably play East again. The way it is, we usually play them in regionals and again at state,” Foster said with a laugh. “East always has a good team and it’s a competitive game. Both teams want to win and for the seniors it’s a great way to go out.”