RIVERTON — Riverton High School Head Soccer Coach Ben O’Connor had to be pleased with the first half effort of his Rams as they played Independence High School Head Soccer Coach Matt Ysusi’s Bulldogs. The first goal of the afternoon was by Rams' sophomore forward/midfielder Blayke Sullivan in the 25th minute as he hit the side of the net of the far post on a crossing shot from the right flank giving Riverton a 1-0 lead. Only two minutes later, Blayke Sullivan would find the back of the goal again on a passed through ball by Riverton sophomore midfielder Brayden Sullivan. Blayke Sullivan’s shot was masterfully placed towards the bottom of the far post and completely out of the reach of Independence goalkeeper Jason Kuehl. In the 36th minute, the Bulldogs were awarded a penalty kick on a foul which occurred inside Riverton’s 18-yard box. The shot missed wide right keeping the Rams first half shut out alive. The first half would end with the Riverton Rams leading the Independence Bulldogs 2-0.
The second half would see a flurry of goals by both teams. One minute into the second half, Independence midfielder Lane Schicke dribbled straight down the right flank and shot low near post finding space behind Rams’ junior goalkeeper Ethan Seiber for the Bulldogs first goal of the afternoon making the score 2-1 in favor of Riverton.
Riverton would answer as Blayke Sullivan would complete his hat trick on the afternoon in the 54th minute by heading a corner kick from Rams’ sophomore Dillon Wood past Bulldog goalkeeper Kuehl. The score would still have Riverton on top 3-1.
“Blayke Sullivan had a hat trick and did an outstanding job shooting the ball,” said O’Connor.
In just 4 minutes, Independence’s Schicke would pick up the trash by knocking a deflection home to make the score 3-2 in favor of the Rams.
Five minutes later in the 64th minute, the Rams’ Wood would score on a through ball played by Blayke Sullivan. Wood’s shot was taken at the center of the 6-yard box and screamed past Bulldog goalkeeper Kuehl into the lower left corner of the goal. Riverton would hold on to the lead at 4-2.
However, Independence would answer with three goals of their own. Bulldog senior midfielder Tyler Posch would score in the 68th and 69th minutes. Posch’s first goal came off a deflection. Posch’s shot was hit hard past Riverton goalkeeper Seiber. In the 69th minute, Riverton was called for a handball inside the 18-yard box. The penalty kick was successful tying the game at 4-4. The go ahead goal for the Bulldogs would come in the 76th minute by freshman midfielder Conagher Welch. A shot deflected off Riverton goalie Seiber, and Welch was in prime position to knock it into the back of the net for the game winning goal. With Welch’s goal, Independence took the lead at 5-4 and held on until time expired handing the Riverton Rams their third loss of the season.
During the match, Independence was flagged seventeen times for offsides while Riverton had no offside penalties. While the Bulldogs edged the Rams in corner kicks 3-2, Riverton was penalized 8 times to Independence’s 4 fouls. Independence managed to get off twenty-eight shots but only fifteen were on goal. Riverton shot twelve times with 50 percent on goal. The Rams’ goalkeeper Seiber had ten saves in the game while Bulldog goalkeeper Kuehl managed to have two saves.
“It was a hard fought game," O'Connor said. "The kids did a great job in communicating and working the triangles.
We are continuously improving throughout the year. It was a physical game, but we did a great job. We are a young team. We will be good the rest of the year."
With the loss, the Riverton Rams stand at 2-3. Independence improves their record on the season with the win to 2-4. The Rams are in action again on 4:30 p.m. Sept. 25 in a clash with the Columbus Titans in Columbus.