May 22, 2013 - By Bruce Tippets, Sports EditorThe Riverton Rampage U14 boys soccer team heads into the Wyoming State Cup this weekend in Casper as a title contender.
The Rampage placed second May 11-12 at the annual Snickers Big Horn Soccer Cup, a two-day tournament played at the Big Horn Equestrian Center.
Riverton tied the Lander Strikers 2-2 in Sheridan, then beat a Magic City, Mont., team 2-0 and the Casper Blades 3-2.
Riverton lost 5-1 to Rushmore, S.D., for its runner-up finish.
"We are playing much better right now than when we started off," Riverton Rampage coach Mike Axthelm said. "The kids have been improving. We have had different formations for different situations. It has been working out well."
Riverton has an 8-6-2 record before the state tournament starts.
"We have had our strongest competition that we have ever played," Axthelm said. "That is making us better."
Riverton also travelled to a tournament earlier this month in Billings, Mont.
"It has helped us show that the kids can play with anybody," Axthelm said. "It has really helped developed our younger players. They are playing with a lot more
The first two days of the state tournament will be used for round-robin play,
The top two teams from round-robin advance to the championship finals.
Teams in the division with Riverton are Sheridan, Lander, Casper and Rock Springs.
"There will be really tough competition this weekend," Axthelm said.
"Each game, we have been setting up with different formations and putting different kids up front," Axthelm said.
Jason Thoren, Skyler Heibert, Lucas Johnston and Matthew Reinig are the key defenders for the Rampage.
"Defensively, that is where I kind of stay -- a little more set," Axthelm said.
Steven Jones is playing in the goalie position. His brother, Michael Jones, was named to the Class 4-A all-state team as a goalkeeper for the Riverton Wolverines.
"They have just been anchoring my fullbacks all season," Axthelm said.
The matches in the U14 division are two 35-minute halves.
"They have been workhorses this season," Axthelm said.
"They have seen a lot of minutes.
They have done a great job for us."
Axthelm said games haven't been high-scoring this year.
"They have had to play really hard from whistle to whistle," Axthelm said.
U14 boys roster
Kevin Schmidt, Alex Fabricus, Reed Axthelm, Steven Jones, Slade Becker, Evan White, Skyler Heibert, Braden Djezvian, Nate Young, Matthew Reinig, Lucas Johnston, Jason Thoren, Nick Stover, Casey Chancellor, Cody Chancellor, Trenton Landis.
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