May 5, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterIt's the third conference championship of the 2012-13 sports season for a Riverton boys team.
With the Class 4-A West conference soccer title on the line, the Riverton Wolverines dominated the Evanston Red Devils 4-1 in the rain at Wolverine Field Saturday afternoon to claim the top regional seed and the league championship
For RHS head coach Erly Cornejo, it his second Class 4-A West crown in six seasons of leading the Wolverines and the third regular-season conference championship (one in Class 4-A basketball and one in Class 3-A football) for a Riverton High School boys team this season.
Cornejo led Riverton to its last conference soccer title in 2011 after finishing second in the Class 4-A West in 2010.
The Wolverines needed to win both of their remaining soccer matches this weekend to finish first in the conference, something that Cornejo thought may have been out of reach just two weeks ago.
Riverton jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Friday with two goals by Tristan White against Green River and survived a late surge to get a revenge win against the Wolves 2-1. Earlier this year, the Wolves pounded Riverton 4-1 in Green River.
White added another two goals Saturday and teammates Logan Hartbank and Scott Sowards also scored for Riverton in the conference clincher.
Evanston scored late, after Cornejo had removed and congratulated many of his starting upperclassmen.
Juan Buitrago had three assists, and Xavier Webb added an assist off a corner kick from Deitrick Becker in Riverton's win Saturday.
"We're getting away from that individual stuff, and that is the biggest thing. They all agreed that was the problem. They said 'let's fix it,' and they have. There is still quite a bit to do," Cornejo said.
With the score 1-0 at halftime, Cornejo said he asked his defense to play slightly less aggressively in the second half, keeping the ball in front and not allowing as many passes from the midfield to the forward. The strategy worked as Riverton poured it on in the second half.
"We're not done yet. Right?" assistant coach Aziz Waheed said to his drenched players after Saturday's match.
Waheed was referring to this coming weekend's Class 4-A West regional soccer tournament in Evanston. Because the Wolverines are the top seed, they gain an automatic berth to the state tournament the following week in Rock Springs. Riverton will also get a first-round bye in the regional tournament and will play the winner of the fourth and fifth seeds, likely Green River or Rock Springs, on Friday.
"They came out and played. It feels so cool. We saw it from the beginning how well this team could play. The first few games we didn't even have captains. Once we determined captains, we felt that was the starting point to get this team molded together. They have done a great job in their work ethic and believing. They trust each other," Cornejo said.
The Wolverines finish their regular season with a 7-4-2 overall record, and a 6-3-1 record as champions in the Class 4-A West.
Kelly Walsh will take the second seed and other automatic state berth to the upcoming regional tournament and probably will play the winner of the Thursday game between third-seeded Evanston and sixth-seeded Casper Natrona.
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