Wolverines head to state with high hopes

May 17, 2017 By Craig Blumenshine, Staff Writer

Both Riverton soccer squads will battle in Sheridan for a chance at a championship.

Neither rain nor snow nor sleet will stop the Wyoming High School state soccer tournament if all goes as planned beginning on Thursday morning at the Big Horn Equestrian Center near Sheridan.

Although the wet weather is forecast to improve as the tournament progress through Saturday, both Riverton High School boys and girls soccer teams must battle both the elements and their first-round opponents on Thursday.

Girls return to state

On the pitch first at the multi-field polo grounds are the Riverton Lady Wolverines (5-11 overall, 2-2 Class 3-A Southwest), who have the ultimate challenge of taking on the top-ranked Cody Fillies (14-1, 4-0 Class 3-A Northwest) and the state's leading scorer, Hannah Bailey, in their first match at 9 a.m.

"It's going to be cold and wet, but its just something we all have to deal with," said Riverton head coach Tanya Santee after practice Tuesday.

"I'm hoping the excitement of being at state will let them know they have to game up and go."

In other first-round girls matches, Lander takes on Powell, Rawlins battles Buffalo, and Worland meets Star Valley.

The Lady Wolverines last qualified for the state tournament in 2013, when they competed at the Class 4-A level.

"We're going to focus on good, simple basic soccer, and we're going to play simple, solid defense," said Santee. "Both on paper and having played a lot of those teams, Cody is just solid. They don't make a lot of mistakes."

Boys hope to get

back to title match

The Riverton High School boys (9-3-3, 3-0-1 Class 3-A Southwest) will wait most of the day Thursday before their first match against Worland (9-4, 3-1 Class 3-A Northwest) at 4 p.m., also at the Big Horn Equestrian Center.

Last year, the Wolverines entered the Class 4-A state tournament with a sub-.500 record, but surprised the field with upsets over both Gillette and Cheyenne Central before advancing to the state championship match against Laramie.

Although the Plainsman won last year's Class 4-A state championship 1-0 over the Wolverines, this year the second-ranked Wolverines will are one of the tournament favorites.

"I want to play at a high level immediately and know that we have to bring it," said Riverton head coach Aziz Waheed, recognizing his team may be on the toughest side of the Class 3-A bracket.

"Worland was number one earlier in the season, and we will not look past a team. Even on our itinerary, I just went until Thursday. There is nothing after Thursday if we don't take care of Thursday. The team that understands that is the team which moves on."

Waheed said that his focus is on, "pride, passion and effort. We can talk about Xs and Os for days, but none of that stuff matters if we are not competing for our teammates, school and town."

In other first-round matches, Cody challenges Star Valley, top-ranked Lander takes on Douglas, and Buffalo battles Torrington.

The tournament concludes with championship matches on Saturday.

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