Red Devil soccer falls to Natrona, 4-1

The Red Devils and Mustangs both attempt a header near the Natrona goal in action from Tuesday, April 16, at the EMS soccer field. The Mustangs picked up a 4-1 conference road win. Red Devils pictured are David Perez (24), Kurtis Richins (22), Sean Knighton (23), Ramon Rivera (19) and Pablo Escalante (7). Both Evanston soccer teams hosted Kelly Walsh yesterday, April 18. (HERALD PHOTO/Mark Madia)

EVANSTON — The Evanston Red Devil soccer team had a number of scoring opportunities they could not capitalize on and dropped a 4A West Conference tilt to visiting Natrona County, 4-1, on Tuesday, April 16, at the EMS soccer field. The fifth-ranked Kelly Walsh Trojans visited Evanston yesterday for a game played at the Bear River at the Bear Meadows Park field at 5 p.m., too late for press time. 

Evanston has been close in many games but the Red Devils have yet to pick up a win in the 2019 campaign, which is a bit beyond the midpoint of the season. Following yesterday’s game with Kelly Walsh, Evanston will have three more consecutive home stands, with Rock Springs on April 23, Green River on April 26 and Star Valley on April 30, before ending the regular season at Jackson on May 3. Regionals will be hosted by Natrona County from May 9-11, and if the Red Devils qualify for state, they’ll head back to Jackson on May 16-18. The Red Devils are 0-5-1 (wins, losses, ties) in 4A West Conference play and 0-6-1 on the season.

“I wish I had more positive things to say,” Red Devil soccer head coach Brian Richins told the Herald, leading into Tuesday’s game with Natrona County.

“We’ve had a rough week.”

The coach looked back on the game in Afton on April 9, against Star Valley, where the Braves pitched a 3-0 shutout. 

“As far as positives, I thought we generated a lot of opportunities but we didn’t do a good job of finishing those opportunities and getting the ball on frame and they did,” Richins affirmed.

“Star Valley has a really good forward. I thought he played exceptionally well. He got a hat-trick against us.”

Evanston hosted the Jackson Broncs on Saturday, April 13, for their home opener. The Broncs jumped out to a 4-0 lead during the first 40 minutes of action. Early in the second half, sophomore Rylan Worley connected on a goal kick and it appeared as though Evanston had captured some much need momentum. It was fairly short lived, however, as the Broncs went on to score four unanswered goals to secure an 8-1 conference road win in cold, wet weather with slippery field conditions. The Red Devils played without senior defenders Tyus Cornia and Carter Garfias against Jackson, both of whom Richins acknowledged as weapons and team leaders.

Richins was often heard encouraging his team to communicate from the sidelines.

“We’re really struggling with that,” the coach said.

“I want them to be able to call out what the play should be as it’s happening. We’ve got some really quiet guys. They lead by example but their next step in progression is to become more vocal,” the coach said.

The coach continued to discuss what went wrong in the Jackson game.

“We got away from playing fundamental defense, being in good stance, defensively. On offense, we were reaching too much. We also had some uncharacteristic keeper errors. I credit Jackson for executing a good game plan. They have a very direct system and they played it well,” Richins avowed.

The coach alluded to soccer skills and the convergence of those skills with execution.

“We’re not making excuses but our lack of time on the field has most certainly set us behind. We have some very skilled soccer players but have not had much opportunity to bring it all together in the proper setting,” Richins said, referring to the vast majority of the practice sessions during the season being conducted in a gymnasium. The Evanston soccer teams have only recently begun to practice outside and not under ideal circumstances, with the wet weather and the effect weather has on the grass fields the Red Devils practice and play on.

Richins expressed his gratitude for everyone who has helped in different ways to assist the team through the existing conditions, citing his the district maintenance department, his players, parents, the Lady Red Devil soccer team and volunteers for helping clear three inches of snow from the field on Saturday morning and the activities office for scheduling a practice session at an indoor facility suitable for soccer in Park City and a trip to Kemmerer to practice on the Rangers’ turf facility.

“I really feel a great deal of support for our program all across board and we are sincerely grateful to everyone who has and is helping us salvage our season. I truly feel we can still make a mark and have some positive outcomes. Our conference is tight this season and we can be right there in the mix of everything,” Richins affirmed.

Against Natrona, the Mustangs scored twice in the first half to take a 2-0 lead before Ramon Rivera found the back of the net to make it a 2-1 game at the half. The Mustangs would go on to score two goals in the later stages of the second half to claim the conference win.


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