Mar 15, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterThe Riverton High School boys and girls soccer teams both hit the pitch this Friday and will begin the 2012 campaign against Sheridan.
The boys play at Wolverine Field, and the girls will hit the road to play their non-conference opening game. Both the boys and the girls games are set to begin at 6 p.m.
Both Riverton boys and girls teams advanced to the Class 4-A state tournament last season, and will look to do the same again this year.
The boys team, led by coach Erly Cornejo, advanced to the state tournament as the second seed from the Class 4-A West last year and ended up placing third after a first round 5-1 drubbing of Cheyenne East, a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to eventual state champion Sheridan, and a third-place, 1-0 win over Casper Kelly Walsh.
Overall, the Wolverines finished last season with a 16-3-1 overall record, the most wins in Wyoming, and a 9-0-1 Class 4-A West conference record and conference championship.
The Wolverines return all-state goal keeper Logan Ridgway and second-team Class 4-A West performer Josh Wright.
Shayden Coulson, Zack Zenk and Kade Salisbury also return with solid varsity experience according to Cornejo.
"The biggest thing that we've been talking about is taking steps and not worrying about being perfect on Friday," Cornejo said.
Riverton will face a tougher schedule this year and not play in the traditional jamborees against potentially weaker teams.
"I actually think we are doing a lot better at this time of the season then we anticipated," Cornejo said.
But Friday's game will be a good test for Riverton.
"It will be nice to know where we stand early in the season. Sheridan only lost one starter. We'll have a tougher schedule across the board," Cornejo said.
Head coach Rick Bergstedt and wife Peggy, who coaches the junior varsity, begin their 26th season with the Lady Wolverines.
Last year, Riverton (10-8-1, 6-3-1 4-A West) placed third in the Class 4-A West conference regular season and regional tournament and knocked off conference champion Casper Natrona at the Wyoming state soccer tournament before falling to Green River 3-1 in the state consolation championship.
The Lady Wolverines return goal-scoring machine Marcia Ashdown, a two-time Class 4-A all-state selection, who scored 19 goals last season and also led the Lady Wolverines in assists.
Also returning is Class 4-A West first-team pick Alexis Oaks. Carissa Kister, Venessa Nells and Cassity Havercamp, who were named to the 4-A West second team, also return. Bailey Stafford, who received
recognition as honorable mention all-conference, also is back for Riverton.
"Like every coach, we hope that we get better every day and that kids will understand more clearly what we want to do. We've worked hard passing over the last 10 days and it begins to look like it will pay off.
That will be our focus this season and help us step up our ability to play against good teams," Bergstedt said.
The Lady Wolverines are coming off their second consecutive successful year of off-season training. Riverton attended the University of Wyoming team soccer camp this past summer.
"The camp does a couple of things. It kind of pulls the kids together. It is a good three days and they work hard," Bergstedt said.
The Lady Wolverines have five seniors among 37 athletes training for soccer.
"That is actually about as many as we can handle," Bergstedt said.
As the season begins, Bergstedt believes there is no clear-cut favorite in Class 4-A soccer.
"Kelly Walsh moves in (to our conference) and raises the level of play.We never beat Green River last year. With a new team in, it is kind of iffy. We could finish really well, or there is a chance we could not qualify at all. I think there is a fair amount of parity on the other side too," Bergstedt said.
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