By Shawn O’Brate
RIVERTON – This past Friday the Riverton Wolverines and Lady Wolverines took on the Torrington Trailblazers and Lady Blazers in two varsity soccer games that looked to shake up some of the 3A East rankings before the final week of the regular season.
It started with the Lady Wolverines, who came into the game ranked first in the 3A East with an undefeated record in the conference, against the Lady Blazers who were coming off their first conference win of the season two days before traveling to Riverton.
The Lady Wolverines took longer than usual to get on the scoreboard but once they did so they quickly made up for lost time. It started with a thirty-yard bomb from junior Jordyn Anderson with 20 minutes left in the first half, she would eventually add another to the list which led to the slogan of the game:
“Good things come in twos”
Because not only did Anderson have two scores, one in the first half and one with three-minutes left in the second half, but also because sophomore Madison Fossey had two and freshman Cami Paskett also left with two goals.
Shortly after Anderson’s first goal, just 4.5-minutes afterwards to be exact, Fossey scored her first goal and would lead the Lady Wolverines into halftime with a 2-0 lead. With their fifth straight shutout on their mind the Riverton girls team came out and, off the back of Paskett’s first goal early in the second half, kept up the pace.
Torrington’s defense against the Lady Wolverines looked great at times, leaving five defensive players back for most of the game, but eventually coach Tanya Santee’s varsity squad poured it on.
Santee’s offense, after Torrington really stifled a collection of good shots, had a plan throughout the game and once they began poking holes in the Lady Blazers’ defensive line things started to fall easily:
“We know that we have lots of girls that are dangerous,” Santee said during the post game show, “so it’s going to be really difficult for a team to decide they’re going to try and shut down one of our scorers. We’re trying to have everybody be able to contribute when the opportunity arises.”
They did just that as Paskett scored her other goal with just under 13 minutes left before Anderson’s aforementioned second goal and then, with just 1:50 left in the game, Fossey came through the defense and finished off the Lady Blazers with a final score of 6-0.
After this fifth straight shutout–all in conference games–the Lady Wolverine’s coach came up to speak about how well her team played to WyoToday’s Kevin Shields in the post-game show:
“They (Lady Wolverines) were real disciplined,” Santee said, “I was pleased with the effort, obviously, and we kind of knew what [Torrington] was going to try and do to try and slow down our offense so we just talked about what we needed to do to make that ineffective.”
She continued speaking about just how they made that originally-stout defense look more and more ineffective:
“We just talked about passing the ball until we could get an opportunity to get through the line and get a good shot, we talked about taking every shot that was open and I feel like we did a good job of that.”
With two more games before the state tournament Santee said that she “just wants to keep playing really good soccer” and that the Lady Wolverines “just treat everyday as an opportunity to get better”.
After the girls shutout yet another conference opponent the boys had a much tougher Torrington team facing off against them. Torrington came into the game number-one in the 3A East on the boys side with a 6-2 conference record, leading the Wolverines in total goals for (by five) and goals against (by two).
The game was extremely physical on both sides of the ball with two yellow cards within the first twenty-minutes including one against junior superstar Sean Carruth and one against the Torrington team. One of those heavy, physical plays ended with a penalty kick by Carruth, which went into the bottom left side of the net to help put his team on the board after giving up two goals back-to-back early in the first.
Eight minutes into the second half it was Torrington senior Joshua Stitt who put the third goal in for the Trailblazers on the board after senior captain Chase Miller and senior forward Kieser Wolfe put the first two goals together against Riverton.
Then, after a strange sequence of events that left Carruth alone with the ball against the Torrington goalie, the Wolverines would score their final goal of the day. Suddenly, within 17 minutes of Carruth’s second goal, the Trailblazers would have two booming goals that pushed Wolverines goalie Lucas Engle to the ground.
After a last-minute goal by Stitt, ratcheting up the Trailblazers’ goals per game average, the game would end with a 6-2 score in favor of Torrington thanks to a hat trick by Wolfe, and three other goals combined by Stitt (two) and Miller (one).
Following such a disappointing loss coach Brady Samuelson told his team to basically leave their feelings on the bench, especially when going down early, “because we got state in two weeks and those teams aren’t gonna be any easier.”
But, according to Samuelson, the four total yellow cards in the game was not a surprise:
“Coming into this game we knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Sameulson said, “To end up as number one in the conference you have to win games like this. We encourage our coaching staff and players to find solutions instead of excuses, we’re going to have to fight through physical battles like this.”
Now, as Samuelson alluded to, Torrington is the overall #1 seed in the 3A East conference heading into the final week while Riverton sits pretty at #2 right ahead of their next opponent, the Douglas Bearcats, who will be looking to leapfrog the Wolverines on the “Pink Night” Friday (look for more information about Pink Night on page B1)
Meanwhile, the Lady Wolverines have a pretty solid hold on the division but will play the third-place team in the conference on “Pink Night” before facing the fourth-place team, Newcastle, on Saturday night–the last night at home for Riverton seniors on both the boys and girls teams.