May 7, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorDaniel Lobera scored four goals for Lander, while Abe Lowham and Ian Whiting each netted a pair in a comprehensive home victory against Newcastle.
Abe Lowham usually spends his time on the pitch for the Lander Valley Tigers keeping opposing shots out of his own net.
However, on Saturday after having manned his familiar position stationed on the Lander goal line, he traded his keeper gloves for striker's boots and scored a pair of goals in an 11-0 victory against Newcastle.
But by the time Lowham dented the back of the Dogies' net, the game was well in hand after a six-goal first half.
It didn't take long for the home side to open the offensive floodgates, as Daniel Lobera scored in only the third minute, storming down the left flank after receiving a pass from Jed Welsh, then cutting back to his right before unleashing a laser which beat the Newcastle keeper.
The Tigers were just getting started.
Lobera scored again in the eighth minute, as he broke in on goal before faking the netminder to the ground, then deftly going around and slotting home.
In the 16th minute, Lobera turned provider as he again found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, only to slide a perfect pass over to the breaking Breven Nicol, who was unmarked at the back post for a 3-0 advantage.
At that point, the game took on the feel of a training ground match, as the Tigers mercilessly pushed forward with numbers.
Welsh scored off a corner by Tony Schaff in the 21st minute, followed by an Ian Whiting strike after Palmer Schafer laid the ball off for Golden Jones, who passed across to Whiting in the area.
Finally, in the 35th minute, the visitors got their first chance at goal, only for Lowham to break off his line and smother any ideas the Dogies had of breaching his goal on the day.
Finally, Schaff scored on a wonderful individual effort, cutting back from right to left at the top of the box before expertly finding the back of the net, leaving the score at 6-0 at the half.
When the squads returned for the second 40 minutes, Lowham was up front and Dan Rollino was in goal for Lander.
Not even 60 seconds had passed before Lobera completed his hat trick in the 41st minute off a Welsh assist, then followed in short order with one more for good measure in the 42nd minute from Jacob Lytle, making his haul for the afternoon four and extending the Tigers' advantage to 8-0.
Lowham then struck with his brace, netting in the 53rd and 54th minutes, with Jones and senior Nathan Zimiga getting the respective assists.
Whiting added his second of the game in the 57th minute, and the damage finally was done.
It was Senior Day for the Tigers and all of the Lander's fourth-year players got time on the pitch and performed up to par, said Tigers head coach Dean Schaff.
"All of our seniors had good games," he said. "It was a special day and good to get all of them in. We have some good athletes in that group."
Among them is Tony Schaff, who had an inspired effort in the middle of the park from his central midfield position.
"Tony's been playing the game for a long time," said Schaff. "He sees the field and distributes the ball well, is playing with a lot of confidence right now."
It was mission accomplished for Schaff's club, as his side carried out the objectives which had been set forth entering the contest, said Schaff.
"We talked pregame about how this was a team we should beat," he said. "But, we knew it could be a trap game if we didn't come out and do our thing."
Lander (10-2-1, 3-1 Class 3-A Southeast) closed out the conference portion of the campaign level atop the league table with Torrington, which means a coin flip will determine which club gets the automatic berth at the state tournament in Sheridan on May 18-20.
Neither the Tigers nor the Trailblazers conceded a goal against Rawlins this season, which was the potential tie-breaker, necessitating the coin flip.
Lander 2, Torrington 1
On Thursday, the Tigers wasted no time in sending Torrington packing in a 2-1 home victory.
Lobera scored from Welsh in the 12th minute, before Schaff took another pass from Welsh and finished in first-half stoppage time.
The visitors managed to strike back with a goal of their own in the dying seconds of the half after Lowham had blocked a shot, only for it to bounce right back to a Torrington player, who put in in.
According to Schaff, the late goal didn't necessarily change the complexion of the game, but provided the Trailblazers with a lifeline for the second 40 minutes.
"I think we got a little panicky," said Schaff. "We let them get possession, and they got some confidence."
However, the Tigers defense remained resolute, as did the Trailblazers, resulting in a scoreless second half and the final margin.
Schaff said he needs more level-headedness from his players.
"We didn't play our best," he said. "We need to be more consistent because we had opportunities on goal."
Lander 3, Rawlins 0
Sandwiched in between the home fixtures in busy week necessitated by cancellations due to bad weather earlier in the season was a road contest in Rawlins on Friday, in which the Tigers defeated the Outlaws by a 3-0 scoreline.
Once again, Lander struck early and often, as Lobera scored in the eighth minute, followed by a Nicol goal from Lobera in the 16th minute.
Schafer scored in the 28th minute on an assist from Jones, which closed out the game's scoring.
On Tuesday, Lander travels to Riverton for a matchup of the top two teams in Class 3-A. Game time in the regular-season closer is 7 p.m. at Wolverine Field, following the girls game.
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