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Riverton mixes youth, experience but falls in opener
Mar 18, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer
The Riverton Wolverine boys soccer team made its season debut Friday at Wolverine Field and, despite dropping their first game 1-0 to defending state Class 4-A champion Sheridan, began to blend a group of experienced returning players with a solid core of younger athletes getting their first taste of varsity experience.
Head coach Erly Cornejo said he hoped to use the early-season matches to take positive steps as he begins to build this season's Wolverines.
"I'm happy. We focused the last two weeks on rotation, defense and one vs. one defending. We struggled the first half one vs. one defending, but the second half was night and day," Cornejo said.
Riverton had a great opportunity to take a first-half lead when, during the 13th minute, freshman striker Tristan White beat the Bronc defense and tried to control the ball as he muscled his way toward the right post. White's shot missed wide right and had followed Aaron Nirider's first shot just two minutes earlier.
At that point, Sheridan had not managed a shot on goal, but that began to change. The Broncs outshot the Wolverines 13-2 the rest of the way.
"I think we need to shorten the field. Our back line needs to push up. Those are some things we will worry about later on. Right now, we need to focus on defense. It's actually nice to know they played that well from the beginning. Now we can speed things up a little bit," Cornejo said.
Riverton's back line consists of two freshmen, Ryan Axthelm and Reed Campbell, sophomore Caleb Ogg and junior Michael Jones.
Although the game lacked the intensity that his team had during last season's state championship run, Sheridan coach Kevin Rizer was pleased with the early season win.
"Our touch isn't in yet. Six of our starters were on the basketball team, so we have only had them for four days. It's good to get a win. I liked our ideas. Our ideas were on target. We had guys move, but the touch wasn't there. That will come," Rizer said.
Riverton had another chance to take the lead in the second half when senior Josh Wright fired a great cross to a streaking White on the far left post, but White just missed the header that would have allowed Riverton to score first.
Sheridan's goal came in the 67th minute after Riverton's defense failed to clear and Bronc senior Jake Moore found the ball at his feet and drilled a shot past Riverton keeper Logan Ridgeway. Moore was credited with an unassisted goal.
Wolverine junior midfielder Kade Salisbury had Riverton's final shot in the 78th minute, but his laser from from on top sailed high above Sheridan keeper Cole Smith.
Sheridan, with 70 boys in its high school soccer program, traveled to Worland Saturday to play in the Worland Jamboree, while Riverton had the weekend off. The Class 4-A Wolverines go to Worland Thursday for a 5 p.m. non-conference match against the Class 3-A Warriors.
Sheridan (1) -- shots 13, saves 3, fouls 6, corner kicks 4. Scoring -- Jake Moore, 67th minute, unassisted.
Riverton (0) -- shots 5, saves 10, fouls 3, corner kicks 0. Scoring none.
Halftime score -- Sheridan 0, Riverton 0.