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PHS girls take No. 1 Cody to overtime

Panthers put scare into Fillies

The gap between girls’ soccer programs in Park County continues to close.

The Panther girls weren’t able to make history last Thursday as they traveled to face the No. 1 team in Class 3A on its home field in Cody. The moment when Powell gets to celebrate its first-ever win over its cross-county rival might not be that far off, however.

Powell forced the Fillies to play more than 90 minutes of scoreless soccer, giving Cody fans plenty of nervous moments in the process, before ultimately falling 2-0 in an overtime contest. The loss levels Powell’s record at 1-1 in Northwest quadrant play. The Panther girls are now 4-2-1 overall this season.

During a first half that was largely contested in the middle of the field, the Panthers dodged a bullet after being called for a tripping penalty in the goal box. Cody sent the resulting penalty kick soaring high over  the bar to keep the game scoreless.

Shot attempts for the Panthers were few and far between over those first 40 minutes as well. The team was able on occasion to send the ball down field and get its forwards free against Cody’s defense, but frequently found themselves outnumbered 2-to-1 and unable to pull the trigger on shot attempts.

Cody ratcheted up the pressure against Powell’s defense in the second half, getting its midfielders more involved on the attacking end of the field. Panther goalkeeper Alyssa Hildebrand proved up to every challenge and the Panthers’ back line defenders did a good job of winning foot races to the ball against Cody’s forwards.

Fatigue looked to be catching up to the Panthers, who were operating with a shorter bench rotation than Cody, late in the second half. The Fillies operated almost exclusively on Powell’s half of the field, but were never able to get a clear shot on the net against the Panthers.

Momentum abruptly changed as the contest entered intermission. The Panthers found their second wind during the first extra 10-minute period. Powell was relentless with its pressure, narrowly missing the game’s first goal on a pair of shot attempts in the first five minutes of the extra stanza. Eventually, Cody was able to adjust to the pace of play in the overtime and the final five minutes returned to a possession war being fought near midfield with neither side getting clear looks.

Cody finally broke through in the second overtime period, unleashing a shot on goal that Hildebrand successfully parried but was unable to corral with a sliding stop. The Fillies won the footrace to the loose ball in the goal box, easily tapping it into the empty net before Hildebrand could get to her feet to recover.

The goal deflated the Panthers, who were unable to mount a serious attack on net in the game’s waning minutes. The Fillies added a late insurance goal on a ball that ticked off a pair of Panther defenders before spinning out of the reach of Hildebrand and just inside the left post for what ultimately will be charged as an own-goal against the Panthers.

Powell hosts Jackson and Star Valley this Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game against Jackson will take place at the high school. Saturday’s varsity game against Star Valley will be held at Trapper West due to the high school track meet. JV games both days will take place at the high school.

The games also begin a sequence of five consecutive home games for Powell. The Panthers do not have a home contest on the calendar for the month of May.

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