May 15, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterThe Riverton girls open at 9 a.m. Thursday.
Both the Riverton Wolverine boys and girls soccer teams are on their way to the Wyoming high school state soccer tournament Thursday through Saturday in Rock Springs.
It's the first time ever that the Class 4-A state tournament has been played on artificial-surface fields.
The Lady Wolverines (6-9-1), the fourth seed from the Class 4-A West, open the tournament at Rock Springs High School against tournament favorite and East regional champion Laramie at 9 a.m. Thursday. The Lady Plainsmen (12-2) won the their regional title by not allowing any goals in a 4-0 win over Sheridan and a 2-0 victory over Cheyenne East.
The Lady Wolverines advanced to the state tournament by beating Evanston 2-1 in overtime in their first -round match but fell to Casper Natrona 3-0 and Casper Kelly Walsh 5-0 in bracket seed play.
Lady Wolverine head coach Tanya Santee knows that her team faces a tough first-round challenge against East champ Laramie and that Riverton must play its best soccer of the year to compete.
"Traditionally the East has been stronger. I think that this year there may not be as big of a discrepancy as their has been in the past. ," Santee said.
Other first round matches in the girls bracket have Casper Natrona vs. Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East vs. Casper Kelly Walsh, and Green River, the Class 4-A West regional champion, vs. Sheridan.
The Lady Wolverines hope their defense can keep them in games and generate offensive opportunities, according to Santee.
"We want to play hard, smart and solid defense. We've worked hard this week on committing to the ball. (Injured defender) Karissa Kister is technically 50-percent possible but that means she is 50-percent not. We have kind of changed our defense a little bit and will make minor adjustments if she can't play," Santee said.
Boys open Thursday
The Wolverine boys, last season's state consolation champs, finished third in their regional tournament last week in Evanston losing to Rock Springs 1-0 but rebounded to beat Casper Natrona 3-0. Riverton (8-5-2) will open state tournament play against Laramie at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Rock Springs Junior High School.
"It was tough to see our kids not play to our potential (against Rock Springs at regionals). We definitely looked flat," RHS head coach Erly Cornejo said.
But the Wolverines played with energy, scored three goals, and rebounded in their final regional game against Natrona and hope to use that momentum to launch their state tournament.
"I think we will see some good soccer. I honestly think we can win. We've always said from the beginning that we have the kids to do it. We need to play and trust and work hard for each other. When we play our best, we are the best in Wyoming. We've had three-game streaks. We just need one more," Cornejo said.
Laramie (10-4-1) lost the East regional championship in a thriller to Gillette 2-1 (6-5 shootout) after defeating Cheyenne East 4-2 in their first-round match.
In other first-round boys tournament matches, Gillette, the East regional champ, opens against Casper Natrona, while Rock Springs battles Sheridan and Casper Kelly Walsh takes on Cheyenne Central.
Riverton will have leading scorer Tristan White available for Thursday's match. White, a multi-sport athlete, was at a hockey event in North Dakota last week and missed Riverton's regional tournament.
Cornejo said he expects Laramie to execute a style of play that is similar to Riverton's, with four across the back and overloading one side of the offensive attack when the situation allows.
"It will be a tough match but a good match for us. I think we match up well. Their star player is a freshman," Cornejo said.
Riverton had an intense practice Tuesday and will now review assignments and keep it a bit on the light side for the final practice Wednesday.
"We're as healthy as we have been all year," Cornejo said, adding that only defender Ryan Axthelm will not be able to play because of injury.
Tournament passes will be available at either tournament site. Cost for adults is $22 and $17 for students. Single-game passes are also available for $6 for adults and $4 for students.
Get your copy of The Ranger online, every day! If you are a current print subscriber and want to also access dailyranger.com online (there is nothing more to purchase) including being able to download The Mining and Energy Edition, click here. Looking to start a new online subscription to dailyranger.com (even if it is for just one day)? Access our secure SSL encrypted server and start your subscription now by clicking here.