Mar 24, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorThe Lander Tigers boys soccer program suffered a big blow when Jess Oldham tore a knee ligament during the Class 3-A West regional basketball tournament earlier this month at Mountain View.
Oldham is one of the top goalies in the Class 3-A soccer division.
The injury has sidelined him for the season.
Veteran Lander coach Dan Howlett said right now the battle for the starting goalie position is between Abe Lowham and Arion Mefferd.
Lowham is a freshman. Mefferd is a senior.
"Arion is a little bigger and stronger," Howlett said. "Abe is much more experienced. He has played a lot of soccer in his younger years."
Lander starts the season this Friday night, March 28, in Rawlins.
Howlett hopes to make a decision on the goalkeeper before the season opener.
"Arion is just a little bigger and stronger," Howlett said. "We are working with them every day."
Howlett is expecting Jackson, Worland and Star Valley to be fighting for the top seeds in Class 3-A soccer.
Buffalo edged Star Valley 1-0 for the title last year.
"Those probably are the teams that are going to be in charge," Howlett said.
"I think that we will be good, but that is something that we will have to find out."
Star Valley slipped by Lander 2-1 in one of the Class 3-A semifinals in 2013.
"Star Valley plays physical soccer," Howlett said.
Casey Winger and Adam Arredondo return this year as starting fullbacks.
"With Casey's and Adam's experience and size, our back line will be pretty strong," Howlett said.
Daniel Bolding started in 2013 as an all-state halfback.
Eli Lowham is a three-year starter for Howlett, and Kyle Leemon is a two time all-state forward.
"That is a real good group of kids right up in the middle of field," Howlett said. "We will be filling in with kids who primarily played junior varsity last year."
Leemon was one of the best scorers in Class 3-A soccer last year.
"Our forwards are good shooters," Howlett said. "Our center midfielders are good ball-handlers."
Lander plays Torrington and Rawlins home-and-away for conference matches in the Class 3-A Southeast conference.
The top team automatically qualifies for the state tournament. The other two teams play in a qualifying match for state.
"Torrington and Rawlins are in a situation where a lot of kids come and go," Howlett said. "Rawlins had a strong group last year, but some of them graduated last year.
The Tigers open the home season on Saturday with a match vs. Torrington.
"We play a lot of home games this year," Howlett said.
Buffalo, Douglas and Newcastle make up the Class 3-A Northeast conference.
Cody, Powell and Worland are in the Northwest league. Jackson, Pinedale and Star Valley are slated to be in the Southwest.
Lander 2014 boys soccer schedule
Lander at Rawlins, March 28; Torrington vs. Lander, March 29; Pinedale vs. Lander, April 3; Lander at Jackson, April 8; Rawlins at Lander, April 17; Star Valley at Lander, April 19; Riverton at Lander, April 22; Lander at Torrington, April 25; Lander at Douglas, April 26; Powell at Lander, May 2; Jackson at Lander, May 6; Lander at Newcastle, May 10.
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