As preseason play rolls on, some may try to gauge how teams stack up to those who dwell within a region by comparing their records and results. While records can be a good way to compare teams, you never really know where they stand until they take the field together.  

Coming into Tuesday afternoon’s matchup in Herriman between Riverton and Mountain Ridge, both teams found themselves with preseason records of 5-1 — the best records in Region 3. Though the records indicated that both teams were top contenders in the region, the question of who was most favored among the favorites was primed to be answered when the teams kicked off region play against one another. 

With a convincing 3-1 final score line, Riverton defeated the Sentinels, improving to 6-1 on the year and further pegging themselves as the side to beat in Region 3. Seniors Whitney Garn and Belle Christensen and sophomore Emmalee Christensen all found the back of the net in the victory for the Silverwolves.

Much of the success came in the first half hour of the game with two of Riverton’s three goals netted in the first 15 minutes of play. Silverwolves head coach Paul Moizer said that getting off to the quick start was something he and his team tried to emphasize coming into the game.

“We started off really well in the first half,” Moizer said when asked what the key to victory was. “We wanted to press high and be intense, and (we) were. I think we kind of got them on their heels a little bit.”

The pressure and intensity clearly made the Sentinels uncomfortable as they struggled to get out of their own end through the initial stages of the game. If not for a few offsides calls and a handful of impressive saves from Mountain Ridge goalkeeper Elle Rafajko, the two-goal advantage at halftime for Riverton could’ve been even more significant.

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The midfield trio of Garn, Emmalee Christensen and Mariana Regla flew around the field for Riverton, continually winning the ball back in key areas thanks to an energy that appeared relentless. That energy played a key factor in the first half goals scored by Garn and Christensen.

“They were all over the place today,” Moizer said of the midfielders. “They put in a really good effort. If they weren’t pushing the ball forward themselves, they were putting the ball through so we could get up the field and they were definitely the ones pressing the most.”

Mountain Ridge began to settle into the game as time wore on, especially when the teams switched playing directions following halftime. After playing the first 40 minutes against a persistent wind blowing from the south, the switch of sides found Sentinels playing with the wind at their backs throughout the second half — a significantly more comfortable position to be playing in according to Moizer.

“With the wind (blowing at us) in the second half, you never know what’s going to happen,” Moizer said. When you’re going with the wind you feel stronger than you do going against the wind, so it’s definitely a mental thing more than anything.”

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Moizer said that he was proud of how his girls handled the wind in the second half and added that they may have even worked harder over the final 40 minutes of play.

Though the wind switched roles in the second half, both teams were able to come away with a goal. Belle Christensen scored for Riverton less than four minutes into the second half, while Mountain Ridge’s Saige Stewart was able to pull one back and prevent her team from being shut out.

The win was about as good a start the Silverwolves could’ve hoped for as they begin to dive into region play following a second-place finish in Region 3 last year. Moizer said that if his team hopes to continue the early success, they’ll need to be more composed going forward.

“We need to work on composure,” Moizer said. “We had some chances that we wasted today and in big games we’ll need to convert those chances, so we’ll definitely be working on that.”

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