May 19, 2014 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterAfter a 100-minute battle in a 3-2 semifinal win over Casper Kelly Walsh on Friday, the Riverton Wolverines boys soccer team gave up a game-winning goal Saturday in the final minute of regulation play and fell to Green River 2-1 in the championship match of the Class 4-A West regional soccer tournament at sunny Wolverine Field.
Riverton will take the second seed from the Class 4-A West and face Class 4-A East third seed Cheyenne Central at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in the Class 4-A state soccer tournament in Rock Springs.
"We were the second-best team today. I think playing 100 minutes (Friday) had a lot to do with it, but we have been training hard. We should have been ready," Riverton head coach Erly Cornejo said.
Green River, able to put pressure on the Wolverine defense most of the match, had its first solid opportunity in the 12th minute turned away. Riverton keeper Ty Woodward couldn't control the ball in traffic, but Riverton midfielder Caleb Richmond was able to clear the ball to keep the Wolves off the board.
The Wolverines had what turned out to be one of their best attacks of the match in the 27th minute. Gatorade Player of the Year Tristan White was on the receiving end of a give-and-go through the middle, and he found himself one on one with Green River Alex Marchal, one of the state's top keepers. White's shot lacked power, and Riverton was turned away.
Five minutes later, the Wolves' Taten Knight lofted a high free kick toward the goal, but the near-perfect shot hit the post, and both teams remained scoreless in the first half.
Flat second half
The second half found the Wolverines, playing in black uniforms under a hot sun, in a tough defensive battle, unable to generate much pressure offensively but still hanging in the scoreless match.
In the 62nd minute, Green River's Tanner Trumble had what appeared to be an open net, but Wolverine defender Caleb Ogg's spectacular kick save kept the score knotted at 0-0. Trumble's shot was Green River's sixth of the half, compared to just one for Riverton at the time.
"They are more athletic than the team we played yesterday. We were afraid of contacts on not following thorough on our passes. We were looking up instead of knocking the ball down and setting ourselves up for passes," Cornejo said.
After pressing the ball deep into the Green River offensive third, the Wolves' defense cleared the ball long to Chase Erickson in transition. Erickson sped behind Riverton's defense, looked up, and blistered a near-post shot out of reach of the diving Woodward for the game's first goal in the 69th minute.
Riverton continued to struggle but got a huge break late when Green River was whistled for a foul in the penalty box.
White drilled the penalty kick in the 78th minute to tie the score, and the game looked like it was heading to overtime.
But Green River continued to press, and Victor Alatorre drilled a perfect header in the final minute to give the championship trophy to the Wolves.
"It was amazing. I told myself we were not going to lose to them. It is my third regional title. I had to win it," Alatorre said.
The Wolverines beat the Wolves 2-1 last Friday to claim the regular season Class 4-A West title.
"This was payback," Alatorre said. "They deserved it (last week), and we deserved it (today)."
Richmond and Deitrick Becker each scored for Riverton, but it was sophomore Sam McMenamy's first goal of the year, a header off a Wolverine corner kick, in overtime, that gave the Wolverines a 3-2 win over Kelly Walsh Friday afternoon.
"My job is to be on the far post and stay back. I just went for it off my head and it went in," McMenamy said.
Unlike Saturday's match, the Wolverines dominated play Friday, especially in overtime, but almost won the match in regulation when senior Marcus Morrison's bicycle kick, with his back toward the goal, just missed the top post.
"(Friday's game) was the best game we've played. We had our moments, but, overall, we didn't play our best (Saturday). In a championship game you have to play better than the other team," Cornejo said.
Class 4-A boys state soccer tournament at Rock Springs:
Thursday, May 22
No. 4 E Cheyenne East vs. No. 1 W Green River, 9 a.m.
No. 3 W Rock Springs vs. No. 2 E Laramie, 11 a.m.
No. 3 E Cheyenne Central vs. No. 2 W Riverton, 1:30 p.m.
No. 4 W Kelly Walsh vs. No. 1 E Gillette, 3:30 p.m.
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