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Leemon scores hat trick for Lander vs. Riverton Wolverines

Apr 23, 2014 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports Editor

RHS will now return to the Class 4-A West league and play Rock Springs on Friday night.

Kyle Leemon stole the show Tuesday for the Lander Tigers, scoring three goals to produce a 3-1 victory against the Riverton Wolverines.

Leemon had one goal in the first half and two more in the second half to get the attention of Riverton High School coach Erly Cornejo.

Leemon is one of the top goal scorers this year in the 3-A ranks.

"I think that Kyle is great player, especially if you get him wide," Cornejo said. "He has a lot of confidence. I think that he is a really good player. He is fun to watch. He has a lot of speed. He is a great kid."

The victory capped the final soccer match against the Wolverines for veteran Lander coach Dan Howlett.

Howlett has been the head coach since 1988. He has decided to retire after this season.

"I have so much respect for coach Howlett because of how long he has been doing it," Cornejo said. "It just shows that he cares for the kids with all the programs he has been involved with."

The match was held at the Lander soccer field.

"I think that we had a hard time dealing with the surface," Cornejo said.

"The surface was hard. It was something that I should have recognized before. I should have had the kids out knocking the ball during the junior varsity game."

RHS plays Friday at Rock Springs to begin the second half of the Class 4-A West conference.

The Wolverines blanked Rock Springs 3-0 in the first meeting of the year.

"This is a big weekend," Cornejo said. "I think that it will be important for us to get that win. I know that Rock Springs has a lot of quality on the team."

The Tigers play Friday at Torrington and Saturday at Douglas.

"Riverton's stronger group is their juniors," Howlett said. "Our stronger group is our seniors. Usually, in the Riverton-Lander game whoever has the stronger senior class wins."

Lander 3, Riverton 1

The Wolverines took an early 1-0 lead in the first half when Scott Sowards found the back of the net.

"We have had goals from a lot of different people," Cornejo said. "We had a lot of assists from different people."

The first goal by the Wolverines helped jump-start the Tigers.

"When they scored the goal, it just gave us an extra kick," Leemon said.

"We just wanted to get one back."

Leemon scored on a free kick to knot the score at 1-1 at the 29th minute of the first half.

"Riverton set up its wall, I looked up and there was a big space over their left side of the wall," Leemon said.

"I knew the wind was blowing. I just adjusted for the wind. I got a little deflection off their wall."

Early in the second half, Leemon put the home team up 2-1 on a penalty kick.

"Riverton got our guy from behind in the box," Leemon said.

Leemon said the Tigers had worked on penalty kicks numerous times in practice.

"I picked my side, and I hoped the goal went the other way," Leemon said.

After the Lander goal, the Wolverines tried to press against the hometown defense.

"Our defense really stepped up and did a great job," Leemon said.

"Our midfield played a great game. We were able to just hold them off."

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