GREEN RIVER – The Torrington Trailblazers soccer team posted a 2-2 record at the Southwest Tournament in Green River over the weekend, finishing with a shootout win over Rawlins in the seventh-place game.
“Overall, this was a fun tournament to go play in and we survived the entire tournament without any injuries,” coach Jeshua Arnusch said. “But, most importantly, we found out a lot about ourselves and our formation, along with the changes we want to make in the second half of the season.”
Torrington 4, Powell 1
The Blazers kicked off action with a hot start against Powell, beating the Panthers by a three-goal margin.
In the win, Nathan Stitt had a hat trick for the third-straight game, finishing the game with three goals. William Fluckiger rounded out the scoring with a goal of his own. Dishing it to Stitt and Fluckiger, Devin Flores, Josh Kingsley and Ethan Creagar all had an assist in the win.
“We had a lot of opportunities in this game and I thought we did a great job of containing Powell’s possession game,” Arnusch said. “They do move the ball well, but we did a solid job of getting numbers behind the ball and pushing them wide.”
Rock Springs 5, Torrington 3
With an opening round win over Powell, Torrington advanced to take on Rock Springs, who won its first game against Douglas, 7-0.
“We were a little shocked at first at how well they moved the ball and how quick they were all across the board, but we never stopped fighting and almost made a massive comeback against all of their starters,” Arnusch said.
The Blazers were down 4-3 in the waning minutes of the game. A goal by Fluckiger was called back, which would have tied the game at four apiece. In the final 30 seconds, Torrington had an accidental handball in the box, which Rock Springs converted for the 5-3 decision.
“This game shows that we are capable of playing great soccer against any opponent, especially in 3A,” Arnusch said. “The last five minutes of the game really was what separated us in the win column.”
Stitt continued his incredible run by recording another hat trick in the loss against Rock Springs, the second-ranked team in 4A. Kingsley and Fluckiger both had an assist in the loss.
Star Valley 1, Torrington 0
The Blazers dropped down to take on Star Valley, the top-ranked team from 3A, who fell to Lander 2-0 earlier in the tournament. The Braves were the first team to shutout the Blazers this spring. Before the game against Star Valley, Torrington’s lowest scoring output in a contest was two goals.
“We came out so flat against them, which is something kind of expected,” Arnusch said. “We had the big home game on Thursday night, the early bus trip Friday morning to the game against Powell and then the Rock Springs game, which absolutely drained us of every last ounce of energy we had.”
The Braves scored a goal in the first five minutes, with the rest of the game being played to a stalemate. Torrington had several looks at the goal, but were unable to convert. Torrington keeper Deaden Morrow had five saves in the loss.
Torrington 2, Rawlins 1 (Shootout)
Following the loss to the Braves, Torrington fell to the seventh-place match against fellow 3A Southeast foe Rawlins. Despite the familiarity between the two programs, the game did not count as a conference matchup.
Arnusch played several young players to get them on-field experience and rest many of the starters, who had played four games in three days.
“Some of the young guys I was impressed with were Durward Randal and Ty Prall,” Arnusch said. “They have been getting better every single day and it was fun to watch them battle and show that they belong on the field with the old guys.”
Both teams scored once during the 60-minute match, which is shorter than a regular game, but is according to tournament rules. Kingsley connected with Stitt for a goal in the game. Also per tournament rules, tie games went straight to a shootout, sending the Blazers and Outlaws to penalty kicks.
Stitt, Flores and Anthony Munoz all found the back of the net when it really counted. Torrington won the shootout 3-0 to secure the win for the game.
“The true hero of the penalty kick contest was Daeden Morrow. He was a stud,” Arnusch said. “Daeden is continuing to get better and grow as a goalkeeper from game to game. I am excited to watch him continue his trends upward as the season goes on.”
Torrington 9, Newcastle 0
Torrington had a game Thursday before heading off to Green River, hosting Newcastle. The Blazers outshot the Dogies 39-3 in the game, with nine of those shots finding the back of the net. Ten Torrington players took at least one shot in the win.
The Blazers got started scoring early and often. Stitt scored the first goal of the game, with Flores coming in with a goal of his own. Stitt then connected on back-to-back goals, including a header in the 18th minute off the foot of Kingsley, competing his hat trick and putting Torrington up 4-0 in less than 20 minutes.
“I was thoroughly impressed with the way our team came out firing tonight,” Arnusch said. “We came out with a great energy and executed our game plan with our first few possessions of the match.”
Newcastle held off Torrington’s attacks for the rest of the half, heading to the break with the score sitting at 4-0.
Stitt was not done for the game, nailing the upper-90 from the top of the 18-yard box in the 41st minute. Fluckiger had the next feed to Stitt, putting Torrington up 6-0 in the 48th minute. Stitt had one more goal in him, scoring on a free kick from just outside the box a minute later, drilling the other top corner of the goal.
In the 53rd minute, Kingsley got on the scoring end of a connection, this time with the assist coming from Tristen Kingsley. Fluckiger also got in on the scoring with a goal late, off the assist from Stitt.
When the dust settled, Stitt finished with six goals and an assist, while Fluckiger, Flores and Kingsley all had a goal. Flores, Creagar, Fluckiger, Josh Kingsley, Tristen Kingsley, Braeden Claussen and Ryan Johnson all had an assist.
“I thought that our passing patterns looked good tonight,” Arnusch said. “We executed our runs and did a good job of passing the ball on the ground into open space. I still think that we can work on switching fields more, but what we did tonight worked great.”
The win over Newcastle was Torrington’s second shutout win of the year. The Blazers now sit at 6-3 on the year after the tournament in Green River. Torrington returns to action Tuesday on the road against Scottsbluff, Neb., with a 5 p.m. start.