Mar 20, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorThe pieces are there for the Riverton Wolverines to be an elite boys soccer team this year in the Class 4-A division.
Riverton has experienced players on offense and defense coming back after winning the consolation championship last year.
The Wolverines open the season at 6 p.m. Friday hosting Sheridan at Wolverine Field.
"I think that we will be able to compete for a state championship," RHS coach Erly Cornejo said. "I think that Kelly Walsh in our own conference will be tough."
Laramie won the state title last year.
"Laramie won it last year with a bunch of underclassmen," Cornejo said. "It's Laramie's to lose at this point."
RHS started practice for the season on Monday, March 10.
The Wolverines will be short-handed in their season opener Friday night when seven of the starters will be gone on a school function.
The players are in Boston for a history class trip.
"With a lot of starters gone for a week, it will take us a few weeks," Cornejo said. "Once we get everybody back, I expect us to be playing some pretty good soccer a couple of weeks from now."
"It will be a good game to give some of the inexperienced kids an opportunity to show what they can do and how they compare to the upperclassmen," Cornejo said.
Riverton's returning starters are Tristan White, Dietrick Becker, Lars Becker, Caleb Ogg, Ryan Axthelm, Caleb Richmond, Sam McMenamy, Scot Sowards and Reed Campbell.
"Our whole back line is going to be returning," Cornejo said.
Ogg, Axthelm, Lars Becker and Campbell make up Riverton's defense.
"We should be pretty solid defensively," Cornejo said.
White, Becker Richmond and McMenamy should spearhead the offensive attack.
"We have a lot of good technical kids," Cornejo said.
Cornejo is expecting to play freshmen Jason Thoren, Reed Axthelm, Slade Becker, Evan White and Kevin Schmidt in the season opener.
Cornejo said Ty Woodward has locked down the goalie position for the Wolverines.
Woodward played junior varsity goalie last year.
"He has done really well so far this week," Cornejo said. "The advantage
Ty has is that he was a field player before. One of his strengths is coming out."
Steven Reinig and Ethan Curtain are working out with Woodward for playing time.
"That will help to put pressure on Ty to continue to get better," Cornejo said.
After the season opener, the Wolverines host Worland on Friday, March 29, and Rock Springs Saturday, March 30.
The first meeting with Casper Kelly Walsh is April 8 in Casper.
The home contest is May 3. The annual Riverton-Lander battle is planned for April 22 in Lander.
The Class 4-A West regional tournament is May 15-17 at Wolverine Field.
'I"m happy for the kids and the opportunity" to host regionals, Cornejo said. "Hopefully, we can make the most out of it."
Cornejo is assisted by Aziz Waheed, Zach Tolman, Jesse Cornejo, Josh Wright and Brady Samuelson.
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