Sophomore Aimee Kawano tallied both Panther goals in Saturday’s victory. Kawano opened the scoring just prior to the midway point of the first half as she slid a low shot into goal just inside the right post and just beyond the fingertips of a diving Pinedale keeper.
After the visiting Wranglers knotted the contest five minutes later by getting one-on-one with the Panthers’ defense with a nice through ball that put Powell goalkeeper Alyssa Hildebrand on an island, Kawano was right there to put Powell back in front.
Late in the first half, Kawano was in the right place to collect a Panther corner kick and strike a well-paced shot that dipped under the cross bar and safely into the upper-left section of goal.
The Panthers missed multiple opportunities to add to their score in the first half. Pinedale found itself struggling to contend with the speed of the Panthers’ forwards while Powell’s midfield rarely allowed the Wranglers a chance to unwind the ball beyond the midfield stripe for very long. The result was a Pinedale defense under relentless pressure in the first half as the Panthers drove the ball into the goal box time and again.
The attack was even more impressive considering it came while the Panthers were driving the ball into a 15-20 mile per hour wind. The Wranglers’ lone goal also came on one of the team’s few true offensive attacks of the first half as the Panthers maintained a relentless attack.
Pinedale adjusted at the half in an attempt to limit the Panthers’ forwards from getting as many shot attempts. While that didn’t prevent the Panthers from maintaining dominance in the time of possession in the second half, it did succeed in preventing Powell from using the wind at its back and adding to the team’s scoring tally.
Wind was also a factor on Friday in Buffalo as the Panthers suffered their first defeat of the season.
“The wind blew the entire time,” said Panther head coach Brett Hanlin. “I would guess it was blowing between 20 and 30 miles per hour the entire game. The team that had the wind had a great advantage.”
In the first half, that team was Powell and the Panthers took their cracks at goal while Mother Nature was assisting.
“Joelle Herzog hit the post with a great shot, but it stayed out,” said Hanlin. “Hailey Wichman had a couple of clear shots, but we just could not get the ball in.”
The second half saw the Bison take their turn. Eventually, the relentless pressure got the better of the Panthers’ defense and Buffalo was able to capitalize. Late in the second half, a blizzard descended upon the field, creating visibility problems and making footing conditions treacherous and slippery.
“We were able to hold them off for quite some time, but they just have a very good offense,” Hanlin said of the Bison.
The final stats showed the Bison taking 11 shot attempts — more than the Panthers surrendered in their other four games combined this season — to Powell’s 10 cracks at goal. The balanced nature of the opportunities was not lost on Hanlin.
“This is a great improvement over two years ago when I first took a team to Buffalo,” said Hanlin. “The score that year was 9-0 and we didn’t even get a chance at goal. I am proud of my team’s courage, stamina and sportsmanship in the face of difficult trials.”
The Panthers, 3-1-1, return to action on Tuesday. Powell travels to Worland for a Northwest quadrant game against the Warriors. The contest is scheduled to start at 3 p.m.