The Panther girls fell 3-0 at the hands of No. 1 Lander. Powell’s boys came up on the short side of a 7-0 decision at the hands of Lander, which was ranked No. 3 entering the contest.
“It was a tough game for us,” said Panther head girls’ coach Brett Hanlin. “We didn’t have Shelby (Nicholson) so our midfield only had one regular starter in it. At any point in the game, that meant we had three or four people learning on the fly how to play that position.”
Hanlin noted that transformed the character of the game.
“We weren’t able to possess the ball the way we would have liked,” said Hanlin. “It turned into more of a kick-and-run contest.”
That worked to the Panthers’ advantage early on. Haley Wichman, Joelle Herzog and Courtney Tyacke each found the back of the net early to lift the Panthers to a 3-1 advantage at halftime.
“We did a good job early on of scoring goals, but in the second half I think we switched to more of a hold the lead mentality,” said Hanlin.
The shift in focus proved costly as the Wranglers scored on a lengthy shot early in the second half and later bent a free kick from the edge of the penalty area into goal to knot the contest at 3-3. The game stayed that way until fewer than five minutes remained.
“We had to go from a mentality of protecting the lead to having to ramp back up to try to score again,” said Hanlin. “That’s not always the easiest thing to do, but we were over on the sidelines yelling that we didn’t want to play overtime. We got some good opportunities and finally we were able to get a shot to go in.”
That winning shot came from the toe of Wichman, who extended her lead as the Panthers’ top scorer this season.
“It was not our best game,” said Hanlin. “We left at 6 a.m., didn’t get home until midnight and it was our second game in as many days. When you throw in the four starters or so that we were without, it was ragged at times. I think the girls showed lots of character and grit coming away with the win.”
The victory helped soothe some of the wounds from a 3-0 loss to newly minted No. 1 Lander on Friday. The Panthers fell behind 2-0 at halftime and surrendered a third goal to the Tigers in the second half.
The game was played for large chunks in Powell’s defensive zone. The Panthers were able to produce few offensive chances in the contest as the team struggled with possession.
Despite the outcome, Hanlin felt the game was useful.
“Hopefully this game inspires us in practice,” said Hanlin. “I hope we’ll use this as motivation these last few weeks.”
On the boys’ side, the Panthers broke away from a scoreless first half in Pinedale as Trey Oullette drove home Jeff Pool’s assist in the 60th minute. In the 73rd minute, Emilio Reya delivered some insurance for the Panthers, getting on the back of an Oullette pass to extend Powell’s lead to 2-0.
Panther goalkeeper Heston Swenson maintained an unblemished net, giving the Panthers the shutout victory.
“We were able to dominate the game, even with two starters missing,” said Powell boys’ coach Travis Rapp, who was without starters Blake Schwan (MCL injury) and Ty Oullette (stomach virus). “We shifted some players around for our starting lineup and found a solid defensive four that allowed us to push Ethan Landers up front. Pure speed up top has been lacking this season, so being able to move him there should help our attack going forward.”
The move also allowed Rapp to shift senior Dewey Schwahn from the outside to a more central role on the defense, hopefully shoring up that unit as well.
“Dewey being inside solidifies our central defense a little more,” said Rapp. “I was concerned about this game when the schedule came out, because of the travel requirements, but the boys responded and played very good controlled soccer.”
That win was important following a 7-0 loss to Lander the day before. The Panthers surrendered five first-half goals as they were stunned by the third-ranked Tigers in the early going.
“Lander is a good team,” said Rapp. “They’re not a bunch of stars, but they play very well inside of their game plan and they pass the ball well.”
The Tigers also gave the Panthers’ defense fits throughout the early going.
“We had a problem sustaining our marks defensively,” said Rapp, noting breakdowns accounted for many of the Tigers’ five first-half goals. “Offensively, we were sloppy and tried to force too much.”
The weekend split moves the Panthers to 3-9 this season. Both Panther teams were in action on Monday night in a makeup game against Worland. The teams travel to Star Valley on Friday and Jackson on Saturday to close out the regular season.