Rainy day, a trophy and a wonder goalApr 23, 2017 By Scott Akanewich, Sports Editor
Conditions at Wolverine Field on Friday afternoon were more suited to the midlands of England than the middle of Wyoming, but that suited me just fine, thank you.
After all, it's almost not proper for a football match to take place in anything less than miserable conditions, except perhaps at the very end of the campaign, when spring has finally sprung, once and for all -- even here.
So, after doing my homework as far as the forecast was concerned, I got out my winter coat for the first time in a few weeks, figuring it would be not the most pleasant of afternoons in Big Red Country.
Shortly after arriving pitchside, up went the hood -- then out came the gloves and finally the beanie under the hood and I was ready to enjoy the proceedings.
But, then again, I've been around here long enough now to not be surprised by such chicanery from the elements this time of year.
About halfway through the girls' game between the Lady Wolverines and Star Valley, the rain stopped, but the wind sure didn't, carrying on with biting ferocity for the balance of the match and the boys' contest, which followed.
However, the weather couldn't dampen the enthusiasm of what was played out as both clubs on either side of the gender line had at it for a total of 160 minutes of soccer.
The Lady Braves dispatched the home side by a 3-0 scoreline, followed by a 2-0 win for Big Red in a hard-fought, rough-and-tumble encounter in the second game of the doubleheader.
However, the lasting moment from the day for me was a wonder goal scored by the Wolverines' German import, Kevin Patrzek.
In second-half stoppage time with the outcome still hanging in the balance and the Braves desperately searching for an equalizer in a game which would determine the Class 3-A Southwest champions, Patrzek sprinted after a ball quickly rolling toward the end line, in what seemed like a futile pursuit.
However, at the last possible second, he swung his right boot at the ball mere inches from going out-of-bounds in a last-ditch effort to keep the play alive.
Somehow, the ball traveled on a line directly between the head of the keeper and the near post, then clattered off the far post and in, as the Wolverines sideline erupted in joyous celebration.
All this occurred directly in front my position just to the left of the Star Valley net and I thought at the time as the play unfolded, "Good job in keeping the ball in-bounds, lad," only to be as shocked as everyone else when the ball went into the net.
In fact, I'll give myself an assist on the play because I might have inadvertently run a screen on the bamboozled netminder without moving a muscle due to my proximity to the ball as it whizzed by me goalward.
It was simply one of those things you just don't see every day and was a microcosm of the Wolverines' season.
Head coach Aziz Waheed's club has overcome much adversity this season in the form of injuries and the loss of players' services for various reasons, but they simply never gave up, which is exactly what Patrzek did in a nutshell.
Riverton's resolve was rewarded after the final whistle with the conference trophy, which comes with an automatic berth in next month's Class 3-A state tournament, where they will look to avenge last season's title game defeat.
Well done, Wolverines.
As long as we're on the subject of Fremont County soccer, let's shine the spotlight on the Lander boys, as the Tigers were bestowed with the No. 1 ranking in Class 3-A in voting by coaches from around the state this past week.
Lander is also looking for a repeat visit to Sheridan after advancing to the championship game last year, only to come up short.
Over the course of this season, head coach Dean Schaff's club has been resolute in the face of several early-season postponements due to weather, which has seen the Tigers play only a pair of home games as we make our way down the final stretch of the campaign.
Daniel Lobera has had his scoring boots on, as usual, but so has Palmer Schafer, Jed Welsh and Tony Schaff, among others, in powering the Green-and-Black attack.
Abe Lowham has been a rock in goal for the Tigers, as have a myriad of defenders playing along the Lander back line.
With Riverton's move down to Class 3-A this season, we could very well be looking at a Wolverines-Tigers match for all the marbles in less than a month's time.
Wouldn't that be something if both could make it back to the title game again this spring, only to face each other in a derby of the highest order?
We'll get a preview of what it might look like when Lander visits Riverton on May 9.
Soccer has taken center stage on the local sports landscape and fittingly so, a trio of footballers take home this week's honors.
Brittany Dwyer, Riverton, girls soccer
Not many soccer players ever score a goal as late on in a match as Dwyer did with her 98th minute overtime game-winner in the Lady Wolverines' 1-0 road victory against Pinedale on Thursday.
But, the junior midfielder did just that, snatching victory for her teammates in a critical conference contest.
Jed Welsh, Lander, boys soccer
Welsh bagged a brace in the Tigers' 4-1 home win against Buffalo on Friday and helped move Lander that much closer to a conference title of their own in the process.
Nic Fenton, Riverton, boys soccer
Fenton scored a pair of goals in the Wolverines' 4-1 road win against Pinedale on Thursday, hitting the back of the net twice inside the opening 15 minutes of the game, which sent Big Red on its way to controlling their own destiny on Friday against Star Valley for the Class 3-A Southwest trophy.
Fenton is a hustle player who never gives up on a ball and never leaves anything in the tank come game's end.
Not flashy as Reed Axthelm, nor as physical as Slade Becker, Fenton combines a blend of both skill and grit in making himself a menace to the opposition.
One of those guys you hate to play against, but love having on your side.
Very cool, indeed.