May 21, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorLander's boys' squad rebounded from a semifinal loss to defeat Worland, 3-1, in the third-place match.
Saturday at the Big Horn Equestrian Center in Sheridan, the Lander Valley High School Tigers lifted a trophy following their final game of the season.
It just wasn't the trophy they had hoped for.
After losing in the Class 3-A state soccer semifinals to Cody by a 1-0 scoreline on Friday, the Tigers bounced back with a 3-1 victory against Worland in the third-place match.
Daniel Lobera scored in the 38th minute to give Lander a 1-0 lead just before the half, only for an own goal to provide an equalizer for the Warriors right after the break to deadlock the proceedings at 1-1.
Palmer Schafer then netted in the 51st minute for the eventual game-winner, and added another for his brace in the 80th minute to salt away the silverware for his side.
Despite the fact his club failed to win the title it so desperately sought, head coach Dean Schaff was pleased at how his squad rebounded from Friday's disappointment.
"I was proud of how the players came back and battled," said Schaff. "It's hard, especially with the group of seniors we had, who had finished second at state twice and had the goal of winning this year."
However, Schaff conveyed to his club all was not lost, he said.
"After the game, I told them it means something for the future of our program that we're out here playing for more than just ourselves, but for all the kids who will play for us in the future and the town of Lander itself."
Cody 1, Lander 0
In Friday's state semifinal, the Tigers were undone by a set piece goal by Cody's John Varian in the 24th minute that propelled the Broncs into Saturday's championship game, despite finishing out the contest with only nine men after two Cody players were sent off.
According to Schaff, the match was intense from the get-go.
"It was a really physical game," said Schaff. "It was back and forth, but we had most of the possession and were putting pressure on them."
However, it was the long-ball tactics the Broncs employed which gave the Lander defense fits, said Schaff.
"They kept putting long balls over the top," he said. "We just weren't equipped to deal with it."
Lander 8, Douglas 0
The Tigers got off to a roaring start to their quest for a crown with a comprehensive 8-0 victory Thursday against Douglas.
Lobera and Jed Welsh each had a pair of goals in the match, with single strikes from Tony Schaff, Jake Calhoun, Ian Whiting and Jacob Lytle.
Schaff got the ball rolling with a goal in only the third minute, after which Calhoun and Welsh added markers in rapid fashion in the sixth and ninth minutes, respectively, for a quick 3-0 lead.
Lobera (16th minute), Whiting (31st) and Lytle (37th) all struck before the first 40 minutes was up, effectively killing off the Bearcats in the process.
Welsh and Lobera added the final nails in the Douglas coffin with scores in the 59th and 63rd minutes, respectively.
Schaff said it was a perfect start to the tournament for his team.
"It was nice to be able to play in the morning, then just relax and get rest," said Schaff. "Sometimes, in a tournament, if you get too beat up in the first round, you find yourself having to fight through the final two days."
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