May 9, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterMaybe the third time will be a charm. At least that is what the Riverton Wolverine boys soccer team hopes is the case against the Evanston Red Devils -- a team that has beat the Wolverines twice this season -- in their first-round must win match at the Class 4-A West regional soccer tournament Thursday in Rock Springs.
Game time is 5 p.m.
Evanston has been a large thorn in the side of the Wolverines (4-8-2, 3-5-2 Class 4-A West) this year downing Riverton 2-1 and 1-0 in their two conference games. In fact, Evanston's only two conference wins this year have been against Riverton.
"I attribute that to luck. The last game we played against Riverton was extremely close," Evanston coach Clint Chandler said.
Chandler, in his fourth season, has never taken a team to the state tournament.
"This is the best opportunity we have ever had. Riverton is higher than us in the seeding. One thing that all the coaches have noticed this year is that it is extremely close. It is going to come down to one unfortunate mistake that could be the difference in a 1-0 or 2-1 game. I've never seen six teams more equal in all aspects of play," Chandler said.
As for the Wolverines, the challenge is to put points on the scoreboard.
"Our focus this week has been to get in front of the goal and get comfortable when we are in scoring position. We created so many scoring opportunities but just haven't been able to finish," RHS head coach Erly Cornejo said.
The only changes that Riverton plans to make in its offensive attack is with their set pieces, the plays the team runs off corner kicks or free kicks.
"We have added some neat, little tricky set pieces that are fun to practice and watch develop," Cornejo said.
Cornejo added that he hopes his thin, injury plagued team can survive its first round game that, if won, will qualify Riverton for the state tournament next week in Sheridan.
"I think it is going to be important that if we do come out with a win on Thursday that we try to keep it in regulation time because we are so thin.
We've been getting more minutes from younger kids, and they have proved themselves. We feel more comfortable giving them playing time," Cornejo said.
The other play-in game in the regional will have second seed Casper Natrona taking on Green River. Rock Springs, which Riverton will play Friday if RHS beats Evanston Thursday, and Casper Kelly Walsh are the top seeds and have already qualified for the state tournament.
The Class 4-A East regional tournament kicks off in Sheridan also on Thursday. The two play-in games feature Gillette (4 seed in the Class 4-A East), Cheyenne East (5E) and Cheyenne Central (3E) - Cheyenne South (6E). Top ranked Sheridan and second-ranked Laramie have earned automatic berths to the state tournament and received first round regional tournament byes.
Thursday's Riverton vs. Evanston match begins at 5 p.m. on the artificial surface at Rock Springs Junior High School in west Rock Springs.
Wyoming High School Activities Association admission charges of $4 for adults or $3 students per day will apply. Tournament passes are available for $10 for adults and $7 for students.
"We will have to play a very solid game of soccer. Riverton is well prepared. They do a lot of tactical things on the soccer field that we take notes of and try to do," Chandler added.
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