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South Valley Riverton Journal

Growing Riverton boys lacrosse team not lacking talent, determination

Apr 09, 2024 01:58PM ● By Josh McFadden

Riverton boys lacrosse players fend off Corner Canyon foes in action earlier this season. The Silverwolves face tough competition this season in Region 2. (Photo courtesy Aaron Taylor)

Still a young sport in the high school ranks, boys lacrosse continues to grow in popularity in Utah. It sure has in Riverton. 

This season, head coach Todd Russell has his largest group ever at Riverton High School. As a result, he is enjoying the depth it takes to be successful at this level. Plus, some of Riverton’s previously injured players are coming back to the field, bolstering the team’s lineup. These include two attacking players, two goalkeepers and some midfielders. 

“Our team is the largest it's ever been, and we have incredibly deep talent in every area of our team,” Russell said. “We've had a great start with our preseason strength and conditioning and mental focus. We are looking forward to starting our region games. I'm excited to watch our team grow together this season.”

Riverton started out 2-4 overall in its first six games. In Region 2, the Silverwolves split their first two contests. Riverton’s first win came March 20 at Spanish Fork, an 11-8 victory. Just a day later, the Silverwolves made it two in a row with a 15-4 blowout of Copper Hills. 

Though his team is deeper than ever, Russell knows the season poses many challenges with talented foes in the way. When he talks about team goals, Russell hasn’t set a specific record he wants the team to attain. He wants to establish a good attitude among his players. 

“My expectation for this team is to end the season with our heads held high and to have a team that respects the game, their teammates and above all that they have confidence in themselves and who they are,” he said. “Outside of that, I know that winning is key for each play and our team as a whole, so I hope to see more wins going forward.”

As important as it is to come out victorious and to claim titles and top honors, Russell believes his players can learn much more than what the scoreboard shows.

“While winning games is an obvious here, every team wants a winning season and a shot at a championship or title at the region or state level,” he said. “I think that true success is that there is a positive impact for each of the players that lasts longer than a season or two—hopefully some long-lasting life lessons. And that it is something that each player takes with them in the form of self-discipline, work ethic, respect for themselves and others. The players need a strong belief in their ability to be and do whatever they put their mind to.”

While Russell has the luxury of being able to turn to more players than ever before, he acknowledges the team has plenty of room to get better. He’s hoping the newer players and more experienced team members can blend into a cohesive unit and play together well. 

“The best improvement would be the magic that happens when players trust themselves and the team,” he said. “This is always our focus.”

Riverton has seven seniors that Russell highlighted. These players are team leaders on and off the field. On defense, keep an eye on Jaxon Rengers, Jackson Killian and Zayne Olsen. Goalie Boston Edson is a headliner too.

“[Rengers] is hard-hitting and plays hard defense,” Russell said. “He has a great level of skill from many years of lacrosse and other sports, including football and rugby. [Killian] is a great player with a lot of experience and skill as a defensive player. [Olsen] is a talented defensive player with a great understanding of the game. He is always looking to learn and improve. [Edson] is a hard-working player with some incredible skills. He’s a top performer and makes a positive impact on the team.”

Other standouts on the Silverwolves’ squad include face-off/midi Zane Johansen, attack/midi Kyson Russell and attack Tyson Pace. 

“[Johansen] has great face-off skills as well as being a player who is able to play any position on the field,” Russell said. “He is fast and is a threat on offense and defense. He is a great shooter as well. [Pace] has great skills and is always a threat on the field. [Kyson Russell] is a great attackman and midi as well. He is a leader on the field and is one of our leading scorers. I could list every player and what they bring to the team. Every player contributes to who we are as a team.”

Riverton faces every region team twice. The opponents are not easy to contend with and comprise a challenging group: Corner Canyon, Bingham, Herriman, Copper Hills and Mountain Ridge. The final game of the regular season is May 2 when the Silverwolves host Mountain Ridge. 

Russell said along with confronting a difficult schedule, the players need to make sure they aren’t making things hard on themselves.

“Each player understands that we have a choice every practice, every game and in everyday life,” he said. “The biggest challenge is to choose to bring our best, to learn from our mistakes and to trust in each other and ourselves.”

The state tournament begins May 14. Last season, Riverton went 7-13 overall and 4-2 in Region 3. The Silverwolves lost to Bingham in the second round of the state tournament. 

Russell has appreciated seeing the players improve as lacrosse players and in more important areas of life.

“I enjoy watching [the players] overcome challenges on and off the field,” he said. “They all have varying skill sets and understanding of the game, and that is always something we are working on. But the mental side of the game and of life is the bigger picture. I enjoy seeing them learn to push themselves to be stronger in every situation, to be respectful and to have confidence in who they are as a person, a student and a player.” λ