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Wolverines down NC; tie KW 1-1 Saturday

Apr 1, 2012 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

The yellow crossbar of the football goalpost on the south end of Wolverine Field is two feet higher than the white top crossbar of the soccer goal on the artificial surface just below.

Friday night, it was the football crossbar that seemed to have been painted with some sort of weird, space-age soccer ball attractant.

The Riverton High School boys soccer team fired shot after shot after shot after header -- four great scoring chances during the last 30 minutes of regulation play -- that hit the football goal post Friday night while the score was tied 1-1 against the Casper Natrona Mustangs.

The near misses kept the game close, but in the end, the Wolverines still managed to come away with a huge 2-1 overtime win.

For Riverton, it was a much needed first win of the year. More important, the victory allows the Wolverines to be right back in the thick of the West 4-A conference race.

"I've never seen anything like that," Wolverine head coach Erly Cornejo said of his team's almost-but-not-quite scoring opportunities.

Other than the first 15 minutes of the second half and the last minute of regulation, the good mix of young and veteran Riverton Wolverines played their best soccer of the still-young season.

In fact, the Wolverines dominated the match against the Mustangs.

On Saturday, Riverton (1-3-1, 1-1-1 Class 4-A West) scored in first in overtime when Shayden Coulsen took a pass from Scot Sowards, but gave up a goal in the second overtime period on a penalty kick to tie Casper Kelly Walsh 1-1 on the new artificial soccer fields at Kelly Walsh High School.

Friday night, junior Michael Jones fired a laser on a direct kick from 25 yards out to give Riverton an early 1-0 lead 14 minutes into the game. The left-footed missile stayed airborne but amazingly close to the ground and seemed to surprise the Mustang defensive wall and goalkeeper, who may not have expected Jones to fire so quickly from the left side.

One minute later, Wolverine freshman Tristan White almost put Riverton up by two, but his close-in shot missed high.

After the two teams broke their halftime conferences, it was Natrona that came out the aggressor as the second half began. Mustang junior Guillermo Alonso scored the equalizer in the 55th minute, but after that, it was all Riverton.

The tide turned back to the Wolverines with the play of Riverton midfielders Josh Wright, Zach Zenk, Kade Salisbury and Jones, who kept possession and powered Riverton's attack.

With overtime all but certain, a free ball in the final minute of regulation play right in front of Riverton's net after a save by goalkeeper Logan Ridgway almost spelled doom for the Wolverines but the young defenders in red and white were able to clear the ball put the game into extra time..

In overtime, Zenk fired a shot that drilled a Mustang defender in the midsection and, as the defender was on the turf, White found the rebound and followed with the no-doubt game-winner for Riverton.

"I thought that we outplayed Natrona. We had good chances, not too many half chances. They were good chances," Cornejo said.

Riverton struggled early against conference foe Kelly Walsh on Saturday.

"The first half we were really slow. Kade and Josh just worked their tails off. The second half we came back strong. Logan saved our bacon in the first half. He saved five breakaways," Cornejo said.

Riverton will travel to Gillette during spring break for a Tuesday non-conference match.

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