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March 30, 2010 3:41 am

Home field advantage

Written by Tribune Staff

PHS girls' soccer perfect on new field

There's no place like home.

After playing the past several seasons on fields owned by Northwest College, the Powell High School girls' soccer program christened its own soccer field, located just north of the new high school, with a pair of non-conference victories. The Panthers scored a 2-1 overtime victory on Friday before tallying a 5-2 win against Torrington on Saturday.

“The girls are extremely happy,” Powell High School coach Brad Hammond said. “I don't think we've ever been 2-0 to start a year, so it is extremely refreshing for the girls to go home with two wins.”

Both games saw their share of bizarre happenings. On Saturday, the Panthers needed less than 90 seconds to tally the game's first goal against Torrington as Taylor Swenson beat the Trailblazers' keeper with a shot.

“At the time, I thought it looked like we'd scored easier than I thought we should have,” Hammond said of the play.

As it turns out, there was a reason for that. Confusion over the day's schedule led the Trailblazers to start their junior varsity lineup against the Panthers' varsity squad.

“Apparently, they thought we were playing the junior varsity game first,” said Hammond. “She (Torrington's coach) didn't realize we were playing the varsity game.”

The mix-up was quickly corrected with a flurry of substitutions after the Panthers' first goal and the two varsity squads faced off for the remainder of the game as the Panthers posted a three-goal victory. Katie Kipp scored a trio of goals and Shelby McIntosh added a strike of her own as Powell out-shot Torrington 17-8 for the contest.

“We had some opportunities that we didn't finish, but it was good to see the kids taking shots and creating chances for us to score out there,” said Hammond. “Both the goals they had came off of defensive breakdowns and mistakes on our part. I was probably happier with the way we played on Friday than I was on Saturday, actually.”

Friday's home opener saw the Panthers locked in a battle against Newcastle. The Dogies struck first on a penalty kick after Powell's goalkeeper made a play on a ball outside the goal area.

“That's one of the positions where we're starting a new player,” said Hammond. “She made a play on the ball, but lost track of where she was on the field and got whistled for being outside the box. Then, on the penalty kick, we didn't hustle to get in position quickly enough and they were able to convert the goal.”

Newcastle's lead was short-lived, however. Just before the end of the first half, Newcastle was whistled for a foul just outside the penalty zone. Kipp's free kick into a noticeable breeze dipped into the top right corner of the goal to knot the contest at intermission.

Despite playing with the breeze at their back throughout the second half, the Panthers were unable to add to their goal count, sending the contest to overtime with a 1-1 score still showing. The Panthers held the Dogies scoreless playing into the wind for the first 10 minutes of overtime. After the teams swapped sides, Molly McCray bent a shot from the right wing beyond the reach of Newcastle's goalkeeper and into the net for the game-winner.

Powell's defense rode out the final minutes of overtime to preserve the 2-1 victory.

“I was really pleased with the way we fought through on Friday,” said Hammond. “We're definitely not in shape yet to be playing 100 minutes of soccer, but the kids pushed through it and came up with the win and I'm proud of them for showing that fight. The defense really stepped up late and made some plays after we'd taken the lead in overtime to preserve the win.”

Powell is off this week. The team travels to Cody a week from Thursday for its next soccer action.

“That will be a tough game for us,” said Hammond. “We won't have our full team, so we'll have to ad-lib things a little and see how we do.”