ROCK SPRINGS — Lady Red Devils soccer accomplished something over the past weekend that had not taken place in seven years. Sure, the program has had wins, and perhaps a tie or two in conference competition, but a conference win has eluded Evanston until last Friday night in Rock Springs, when the seven-year ache came to an end. The Lady Red Devils departed from the Rocket City with a 1-0 win in tow.
The teams played to a scoreless first half.
“It was fantastic, a great feeling to get that win,” coach Brian Richins told the Herald. “I was little worried about us. We came out kind of slow, and I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to get it done.”
Richins explained the Lady Tigers did score, but the point was nullified as it was ruled Rock Springs went out of bounds before scoring. Evanston scored fairly early in the second half, in the 52nd minute of the game.
“[It was] Tara Fry, again, with a free kick, like she had against Green River, put it right in the back of the net,” the coach recalled, “and that’s all we needed.”
Evanston had an opportunity to make it 2-0, as Destanee Cook ”had a one-on-one with the ‘keeper,” Richins detailed, noting Cook would ordinarily have the advantage to kick past a goalkeeper in that kind of scenario, but was frustrated after kicking the would-be point directly at the goalkeeper for Rock Springs.
The coach relayed the team was a little late getting back, due to picking up an injured player at the hospital, but arrived back home at about 11:30 p.m. By 6:30 a.m. the next morning, Evanston was back on the bus in route to Riverton. Richins was unsure if the short turnaround played into the outcome, or perhaps a mix of a variety of factors, such as being a bit too content with Friday’s victory, but did not feel his team competed to their potential in the game against the Lady Wolverines, which Evanston dropped, 0-4, picking up a conference split on the weekend.
“We may have made them look better than what they are,” Richins expressed, adding Riverton was quite adept at ball possession, but felt his team didn’t put enough defensive pressure on their opponent, giving the Lady Wolverines too many open looks.
“We just didn’t play that well,” expressing his belief the scoreboard disparity was not a true measure of how Evanston stacks up against Riverton.
Home, sweet home
The Lady Red Devils will travel to Green River on April 26 for a conference clash, but other than that, are basically at home for the rest of the season, and the start of postseason play, with Evanston playing host to the regional tournament. A non-conference venture to Rawlins may have been replaced by a triangular competition involving Rawlins and Star Valley.
While Evanston has a great shot at turning things around, they won’t start off in easy fashion. The Casper schools are due in this weekend, and Natrona County, in particular, put a licking on Evanston, 9-0.
“I’m going to challenge my girls to be tough, and we’re going to give them all we’ve got,“ Richins said.
With a chance for snow on each day of preparation leading into the weekend, Evanston’s practice time may be relegated to being held indoors, most of the week, but if it’s just cold conditions, you can bank on Evanston working outside.
Richins refers to the Fillies as being a very skilled team that takes care of the ball, and knows how to keep possession and set up opportunities for scoring. The skill factor aside, along with noting the speed of a couple of the Fillies, he feels his girls are capable in strength and athleticism of matching Natrona County, and will challenge his girls to stay with the match-ups NC will present.
Evanston implemented a new formation, along with changing positions of several girls, before facing the Lady Trojans, without the opportunity to practice with those changes prior to facing KW in Casper. The coach is anxious for his team to have a second shot at the Lady Trojans, acknowledging Kelly Walsh seems to have found more offensive success as of late.
The Lady Red Devils’ head coach explained his team practices primarily at Clark Elementary’s field, where Richins teaches, while the boys team, guided by Clint Chandler, mostly utilizes the same practice field as the football team, above and southwest of Red Devil Stadium, saving wear and tear on the Evanston Middle School field, where both teams play most of their home contests, as requested by fields and facility manager Boyd Child.
There’s also the field at Uinta Meadows and Aspen Elementary, though none are ideal as secondary fields for competitions, as requirements, such as bringing in temporary seating, would need to take place at most.
If weather conditions do not postpone this weekend’s home competitions, the Red Devils and Lady Red Devils will have a trial run at conducting the regional tournament, as both schools are set to host Natrona County and Kelly Walsh this Friday and Saturday, April 19 and 20. As to which field will be utilized as the secondary venue to the Evanston Middle School field, that is being discussed and considered.
There was talk among conference representatives about moving the regional tournament to Riverton, even though it’s Evanston’s turn in the rotation to host; the discussion centered around Evanston’s ability to host, due to lack of facilities. Richins claimed activities director Bubba O’Neill was adamant about Evanston maintaining their turn in hosting, and Richins very much appreciated the support demonstrated from the activities office.
Preliminary plans would have the Lady Red Devils hosting at the EMS field, with spectator seating added to the practice field, adjacent to Red Devil Stadium, for the Red Devils to host Natrona County and Kelly Walsh. The field at Clark, if ready from a grounds crew perspective, may be preferred, as spectator seating is already present.
The Herald contacted the activities office to determine what decisions have been reached, with O’Neill pledging to contact facilities directors to determine which options the district will pursue, and apprising the Herald, once decisions had been reached. If the decision has not been rendered by press time, the Herald will report on the matter in the Friday issue.