EVANSTON — Like their Lady Red Devil counterparts, Red Devil soccer received a surprising, short-notice opportunity on Monday, March 25, to travel to Riverton to square off against the Thunder Basin Bolts the very next day. The Bolts came away with a 3-0 win at the neutral site to rise to 3-0-1 on the season, and have yet to be scored upon in their first four outings. Thunder Basin defeated the defending 4A state champion Natrona County Mustangs, 6-0, to begin the season, then played to a scoreless draw against Cheyenne East on March 22. Prior to the Tuesday matchup with Evanston, the Bolts also handed Cheyenne Central a 1-0 setback on March 23. The Bolts were the top-seed from the 4A Eastern Conference last season but settled for a consolation championship at last year’s state tournament.
The Red Devils, on the other hand, are 0-3 on the early season and are looking for their first goal of the year, not to mention, the season’s first victory. Evanston dropped a 9-0 decision to Kelly Walsh to begin the year, before narrowly being defeated by Natrona County, 1-0, last weekend, prior to the unexpected match with the Bolts.
“We’re never going to turn down an opportunity to get on the grass somewhere,” Red Devil soccer head coach Brian Richins told the Herald. Richins commended the activities office, transportation department and administration for their handling of all the details to allow his team the opportunity for an additional match to make up for games missed in the canceled Casper Jamboree on March 15-16.
The first 40 minutes ended in a scoreless deadlock.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Richins said.
“We’ve really been working hard on our spacing and keeping guys in the right position and making sure we have the ball in positions where we wanted it to be, too,” the coach added.
Evanston took a roster of 24 players to Riverton to allow for a lot of substitution and to try different combinations of players in its offensive and defensive schemes.
“We allowed two legitimate goals. The third one, I believe, in watching film, the kid was offsides. It was kind of a strange call from the outside,” the coach added.
“I felt a two-goal loss to a team like Thunder Basin was not too bad, but we also had some chances and didn’t take advantage of them,” Richins stated.
Among the substitutions and lineup changes, Richins opted to use sophomore Rylan Worley as goal-keeper against Thunder Basin, when junior Latham Chandler had manned the position during the first two contests against the Casper schools.
“Those two are so dead-even. Both have made mistakes but have played very well, too. We’re fortunate to have two quality keepers, “ Richins avowed.
“I really like both kids and they’re both working super hard. I think we’ll be able to settle in and have two really good options,” he added.
Richins also had praise for some of his outside midfielders and wings.
“Seth Knighton and Ramone Rivera really did a nice job of sticking to our philosophy. Those two started but the substitutes who came in for them really helped keep our form, as well,” Richins said.
“They played well defensively and also helped transition us, offensively,” he added.
Richins said he hoped that at least one more match could be added to the schedule to make up for the missed games at the start of season and cited Farson as a potential venue for Red Devil soccer to host a “home” game, but noted that facility is still covered with a foot of snow, as well.
The Red Devils will next face the fourth-ranked Tigers on April 2, in the Rocket City. The match is scheduled for a 5 p.m. start time, which is the same time for the Lady Red Devil-Lady Tiger conference matchup. The Tigers won their first four matches to begin the season, but have dropped their last two.
Red Devil soccer will return to Sweetwater County on Friday, April 5, for another 4A West Conference game against Green River with a scheduled 3 p.m. kickoff, to be followed by the Lady Red Devils vs. Lady Wolves at 3 p.m.