Apr 15, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterA step forward, a step back. That is how Riverton High School head coach Erly Cornejo described his team's fight to a 0-0 tie against Green River on Friday at Wolverine Field, and its subsequent 2-1 fall to Evanston on Saturday.
Both games were Class 4-A West conference matches, and Saturday's loss was the first time the Red Devils have beat the Wolverines with Cornejo at the helm.
"It's a step backwards again," Cornejo said. "We had a terrible first half (Saturday). It's up to the kids. They can play."
The Wolverines (1-5-2, 1-2-2 Class 4-A West) have now made it through the first round of conference play and will challenge Lander for the annual cross-county match Tuesday.
The girls matches are scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, and the boys are scheduled for 6 p.m.
"We may go at 3 p.m. (girls) and 5 p.m. (boys). I'll talk with (LVHS activities director) Barry Scott on Monday," said Riverton activities director Keith Bauder.
Riverton dominated play for much of the match, which was played under an overcast sky and bright lights Friday at Wolverine Field. The Wolverines had their best opportunity to score in the 25th minute when Lars Becker overlapped Kade Salisbury. Becker then sent it back to Salisbury who delivered a perfect pass to Tristan White whose header clanked off the top post.
"I think today Riverton controlled the game more than we did," said Green River head coach Mark Tinski. "They had more opportunities. In that sense, we were bending but not breaking."
For much of the first half, the Wolverines had to deal with the fastest player they'll see this season in Green River's Kolby Kester, the defending state track champion in the 100-meter dash, 110-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles.
"We have never had this much speed. (Kester) just felt like he needed to switch," Tinski said. "He may have been burnt out on (track). I don't know. He has played soccer his whole life. He was in the Olympic Development Program."
Kester, who generated Green River's best opportunity to score in the first half, was injured in the second half, and proved not to be a factor late in the match.
The Wolverines strung their best offensive sets together around the 50th minute when Shayden Coulsen's flip throw-in was headed by Aaron Nirider, but the shot missed wide. Forty seconds later, Coulsen's throw-in actually hit the post on a bounce and was cleared by Green River's defense. Because throw-ins are indirect, a player would have needed to touch the ball before it went into the net for the point to count.
Salisbury had a good shot after a corner kick two minutes later, but it missed high.
Goalie Logan Ridgeway made two good saves in overtime -- one diving back toward the goal -- in order to preserve the tie.
Evanston's junior forward Devian Kurete scored twice in the first half Saturday, including one shot made with his left foot in the 23rd minute that ended up being the game-winner.
"I thought our two center backs, Mike Jones and Caleb Ogg, played really hard," Cornejo said. "That is the reason they scored, because they were playing too hard trying to cover up for everybody else's mistakes. We lost shape."
Riverton scored in the 38th minute to pull within one when Coulsen took a pass from Zach Zenk to beat the Evanston keeper.
"We played hard Friday, and we played well in the second half (Saturday), but I'm tired of saying that," Cornejo said. "The kids just have to play two halves. Seems like every other game we play hard."
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