U14 Striker Boys (and Girl) Take Championship

First in the Casper Fall Classic for a Patchwork Team

With a little help from three Riverton friends, the Lander Strikers bested Jackson's powerhouse U14 boys squad 3-1 in the final match to take first place in the Casper Fall Classic this past weekend.

Finishing the four game tournament with 20 goals netted and only 4 allowed, Lander stepped ahead of teams from Casper, Rapid City, Jackson, Torrington, Rock Springs and Green River to claim the prize for first place.

"This tournament has been an absolute confidence builder for our players. The Jackson match was a modern day David-versus-Goliath story played on a soccer field." Said Lander Coach Fabian Lobera. "Today, David got his day. Tomorrow, we have to prepare twice as diligently," referring to Lander's journey to the Tournament of the Tetons in Jackson, Wyoming later this month.

The Strikers backs were the driving force in their wins. Anchored by Griffin Leemon, Nesto Lowham, Noah Peschio, Keaton Scott, and Evan White, the flat-back four formation limited Jackson to just 5 shots on goal. Prior to the championship game, Jackson had scored 24 goals in three games. Lobera added, "while our defense took control, soccer doesn't allow you to win against strong teams without a complete team effort. Our team moved the ball and maintained possession. Our belief: If we have the ball they can't score."

A Patchwork Challenge
"Our young middle-school athletes have so much vying for their attention in the Fall, that simply fielding a team can be a challenge. Fortunately, our program keeps players coming back and through the years, we've built strong relationships with our friends in Riverton and other surrounding towns." The result is a team that is built with three Riverton players, 12 from Lander, one from our U14 girls player pool." The Strikers will attend the Colorado Shootout in October to compete with teams from around the Rockies, and in the process recruit two Laramie, Wyoming players to ensure a full roster.

"Our diverse makeup can play to our advantage at times," reports Lobera. "Our young lady, Rachael Troxel, can sometimes lull a team during warmups to think we're not as strong in all positions as we should be. They tend to wake up very quickly when she takes her first shot and you learn that she may have the strongest and most accurate foot on the field. We've scored a lot of surprise goals that way," smiles Lobera.

"I'm proud of the work put in by our players. It can take a new group of players many months to gel to the level these players have. They've done it in two".

(photo credits Drew Leemon)