ROCK SPRINGS – Cheyenne East senior goalkeeper Shayne Carter has dealt with an array of injuries this season.
She missed half of the basketball season after suffering a broken hand during preseason practices.
During soccer, Carter suffered a head injury in a collision with Laramie forward Ariel Romero early in the year. Then she started missing time due to hip, back and neck ailments.
The worst of those injuries are tears in her hip flexor.
Carter’s last bit of extensive playing time prior to Thursday’s Class 4A state quarterfinal win over Casper Natrona County came on May 2 in a home win over Gillette. She didn’t record a save after entering in the second half of the Lady Thunderbirds’ 3-2 opening round victory Thursday, but she still looked solid.
That Carter is playing at all for the reigning champions is noteworthy.
Carter was set to start against Sheridan on May 3 but tweaked an existing injury in warmups. A doctor told her to take two weeks off before even thinking about playing again.
She practiced lightly Monday and went full bore Tuesday.
“It’s been a while,” Carter said. “Sitting out really helped my injuries a lot. I wasn’t able to run or do anything for a while. It feels better now. I couldn’t practice at all in the two weeks that I sat out. All I could do was physical therapy.”
Carter contemplated trying to force her way back into the active roster during last week’s regional tournament but was talked out of it.
“Everyone said the best thing to do was to sit out and be ready for this week,” she said. “They didn’t want me to have a freak accident and not be able to play at state.”
The only hiccup in Carter’s return came late in the second half when East had subbed out all but one defensive starter. And even that starter was playing a different defensive position than she had all season.
Natrona sent a ball over the defense that left Fillies freshman Chloe Sale one-on-one with Carter just outside the penalty area. Carter charged off her line and challenged Sale, who sent a shot off the crossbar.
East eventually cleared the ball.
“It feels so good to be back out there,” Carter said. “It’s way better than sitting.”
Later in the half, Carter dove for a long pass and swallowed it up just as a Natrona forward rushed on. That resulted in a pretty good collision, but Carter jumped right back up and punted the ball.
“I hardly noticed it and I think adrenaline really helped with that,” Carter said. “Hopefully, it still feels OK (Friday).”
Carter is still slowed by her injuries, but her play Thursday was encouraging to East coach Jim Gardner. The veteran coach now has a decision to make: Stick with the hot hand and the 100 percent healthy keeper in junior Ashton Brodahl or go with the veteran, who is playing in her last state tournament.
“Ashton is playing very well and Shayne still isn’t 100 percent,” the coach said. “It’s a tough decision and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t want to hold Shayne out, though.
“She’s a four-year starter, a two-time all-stater and this is her last weekend with the team. Ashton is every bit as good as Shayne, she’s just does it a little differently.
“Ashton has played well all year. The team doesn’t skip a beat when she’s in there. I have a hard decision to make.”