The Panthers recovered to pick up a 2-1 victory over Rawlins in a game that lasted just 20 minutes after match officials called the contest at halftime on account of lightning. That left the Panthers at 1-2 for the weekend.
“We had a little bit of everything,” Panther head coach Travis Rapp said of Saturday’s weather. “We had some light rain in the morning, sunshine in the midday and then hail in the afternoon.”
The Panthers had a rough start to the season against Star Valley, starting a relatively inexperienced lineup. Powell received goals from Blake Schwan and Trey Oullette, the latter assisted by Ty Oullette, but trailed by a 4-2 margin until the Braves tacked on four goals in the final 15 minutes of action.
“It really just snowballed on us,” said Rapp. “I felt it was a much closer game than the score indicates. We had five or six guys starting that game for whom it was their first varsity contest, so we had a lot of inexperience and learning on the job going on out there.”
The Panthers fared better in their second jamboree game, a 40-minute contest against Pinedale, but continued to find a lot of frustration out on the pitch as the team looked to determine its varsity roster for the season.
“Pinedale was one of those frustrating games where we dominated the play, but made one mistake and wound up losing the contest,” said Rapp. “We had more young kids out there to give them a chance to show us what they can do as we look to set our varsity roster for the regular season.”
The Panthers outshot Pinedale by a 12-3 margin and possessed the ball for an estimated 75 percent of the clock time, but the Wranglers netted the game’s only goal.
“It was a lot like the game we played at their place last year,” said Rapp. “All of our shots seemed to bang off the post or went straight to their keeper. It was like he had a magnet or something.”
Despite the loss, Rapp called the game “much better” than the team’s Star Valley game.
Against Rawlins, the Panthers struck early on a goal from Dewey Schwahn. Schwahn was in the right place as a Panther corner kick deflected and fell to his feet. Trey Oullette followed with what proved to be the game-winner as he stole the ball from a Rawlins defender near the top of the 18-yard box and laced a kick past the Outlaws’ keeper.
“That was a great hustle play, which you love to see out of a freshman,” Rapp said.
Overall, the Panthers’ coach said he was pleased with the results from the weekend, even though the performances did not translate to wins.
“Looking at our two games after Star Valley, we adjusted and learned and moved forward,” said Rapp. All in all, some really good things came out of the weekend. The score lines weren’t what we were looking for, but that’s not necessarily bad. We might be able to sneak up on some folks.”
The Panthers jump into the regular season this Friday as the team hosts Buffalo in a 5 p.m. contest. Pinedale comes to town on Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff, giving the Panthers an opportunity to avenge one of their jamboree losses.
“I think it’ll be a different game,” said Rapp.