“We did beat Worland at least once in the past, but to my knowledge, that was back in the early days, maybe 2003 or so,” head coach Brett Hanlin said of Tuesday’s win. “This is the first time that we have beat them with me as coach and in my players’ memories.”
Joelle Herzog got the scoring started for the Panthers 14 minutes into the contest. Herzog took a feed down the center of the field, beat her defender by a half-step and slipped a shot to the left of an onrushing Worland goalkeeper to put Powell on the scoreboard.
Sophomore Aimee Kawano added to Powell’s lead 10 minutes later when she found herself in some space and uncorked a shot on goal from well above the 18-yard box. The blast from 25-30 yards caught Worland’s defense flat-footed and looped into the top right corner of the net for a 2-0 Panther lead.
Worland got on the board minutes later. The Panthers were whistled for a takedown in the goal area and the Warriors were awarded a penalty kick for the trip. Panthers’ goalkeeper Alyssa Hildebrand guessed correctly, diving to her right, but wasn’t able to get a finger on the free kick.
The goal cut Powell’s lead to 2-1 at intermission.
The Warriors began the second half with better movement offensively and defensively, but were never able to mount a serious challenge on goal during those early minutes. Eventually, the Panthers found their legs again and began to reassert pressure at the offensive end.
Junior Haley Wichman added to the Panthers’ lead by taking a cross near the top of the 18-yard box, muscling off a Worland defender and getting off a shot while sliding to the ground. Wichman’s ball hugged the ground, slipping just inside the left post and just beyond a diving Worland keeper for a 3-1 Panther advantage.
Powell’s final score of the game came on an inbounds play as Herzog again found the ball at her feet following a long throw in from Kawano. After starting right, Herzog was able to cut back and split a double-team of defenders for the game’s final goal. The Panthers had chances late to add to their lead as the team continued to hold the ball in the attacking zone for much of the final 15 minutes.
“We called for that play on the throw-in,” noted Panther head coach Brett Hanlin. “And it worked for us. The girls did a good job throughout the game of getting the ball in front of the goal and looking to make things happen.”
Carly Klein, Kawano and Wichman were each credited with assists in the contest.
The victory was the Panthers’ fourth in six games this season. More important, it provides the team a 1-0 start to quadrant play. The Panthers have the weekend off before returning to action for another Northwest quadrant game on April 4 at Cody. That will be the Panthers’ last road contest for three weeks as the team’s next five games will all take place on the turf of Panther Stadium.
While the Panthers are currently atop the Northwest quadrant standings, the team tumbled from the rankings following its first loss of the season. Cody continues to hold the top spot in 3A girls’ soccer according to the latest Wyopreps coaches and media poll. Jackson, Lander, Star Valley and Buffalo round out the top five this week. Worland and Torrington each received votes.