“It was really too bad,” said Panther head coach Travis Rapp. “We possessed the ball for almost the first 30 minutes and it seemed like Worland was ready to crack. The boys were doing everything we were asking of them, but we just couldn’t crack the net.”
The Warriors had been able to score an initial goal on a long pass down the wing, which enabled a Worland forward to outrun the Panthers’ defenders to the ball. After the play cut back to the middle of the field, goalkeeper Heston Swenson was caught leaning the wrong way in anticipation. The goal was one of the few offensive chances produced by the Warriors to that point in the contest.
That all changed abruptly as the first-half clock ticked beneath five minutes remaining. The Warriors created another transition opportunity to go up 2-0 with 4:41 remaining until intermission.
Forty seconds after the restart, the Panthers were stripped of possession and Worland upped its margin to 3-0. The onslaught ended at the 2:20 mark when the Warriors were again able to grab possession and successfully counterattack for a 4-0 halftime lead.
“What I saw was we were doing a good job with our initial marks, but Worland was bringing in an outside midfielder on a secondary run and that’s what scored two of those three goals,” Rapp said of the Warriors’ scoring flurry. “The third one was just a breakdown where we left a guy unmarked in the box, and of course you can’t do that. They were just mental breakdowns.”
The Panthers were able to shore up the defense at halftime, accounting for Worland’s extra attacker on defense. With four goals separating the clubs on the scoreboard, the Warriors were able to approach the second half from a defensive mentality, severely limiting the number of looks at the net the Panthers received.
“That’s the nice thing with these kids,” Rapp said of the halftime adjustments. “We tell them to fix something, and they go out and fix it. They’re a very coachable group in that regard. We moved some players around up front to try and generate more shots, but we didn’t do a very good job of putting them on net.”
Worland added its fifth goal on a penalty kick after a tackle in the goal box was ruled excessive. The Warriors’ sixth goal came off a corner kick.
“It’s pretty bittersweet,” Rapp said of the game. “As a whole game, I felt this was one of the better games I’ve seen these guys play. But then you look at the scoreboard and see 6-0 and it’s hard to convince people that these guys played great. I think if we get the ball in goal early and we’re able to get the lead that the tone of the whole game changes.”
Despite falling to an 0-1 start in quadrant play, the Panthers’ coach indicated the season was still early and there was no reason to panic.
“We’ll work some on pulling the trigger and getting the ball on net,” Rapp said. “We need to work on possessing the ball with a purpose and getting a few more shots off of that rather than just trying to possess the ball, but I think Powell soccer has come a long way and I think we’re ready to take the next step. It’s still early in the season. We’ve got some minor things to work on and I think we’re a top flight club for the state of Wyoming. This was just really bittersweet today.”
The Panthers are off until April 4 when the team travels to Cody. The Broncs are unranked, picking up just three fifth-place votes in this week’s Wyopreps coaches and media poll.
Jackson continues to hold down the No. 1 spot in the poll. Lander, Buffalo, Worland and Star Vallely round out the latest top five.