Junior Haley Wichman gave Panther fans something to cheer about early on as she scored in the contest’s fourth minute. The early strike sucked momentum from upset-minded Newcastle.
“Haley’s goal was good because it gave us a quick lead and really took a lot of that early energy out of Newcastle right away,” said Panther head coach Brett Hanlin, whose team improved to 7-8-1. “To have it happen so fast was pretty much the perfect scenario for us. We started out really well.”
Powell added to its lead midway through the first half. Sophomore Courtney Tyacke scored to up the Panthers’ lead to 2-0, a margin that held up through the remainder of the first half.
In the second half, senior Kim Murdock fed the ball across the front of the goal to classmate Joelle Herzog, whose right foot delivered the Panthers’ third goal of the contest. The Panthers added on to their winning margin late in the half as Tyacke was rewarded for her intuition and hustle with a breakaway goal.
“She anticipated a pass from Newcastle’s defense and ran to the spot in time to intercept the ball and just carried it in and put it in the net from there,” said Hanlin. “It was a good hustle play on her part.”
The one-sided nature of the contest also enabled the Panthers to substitute liberally, especially in the second half.
“Everybody got some time in the game,” said Hanlin. “Some of the kids probably doubled their varsity minutes for the season out there. It worked out really nice because we could save some minutes and legs for state this week. We had a number of kids who were just coming back from injury that we were able to limit on the field and give them some extra rest so they can hopefully heal up for the week ahead. I’m really pleased with the way things worked out and with how we played.”
The Panthers now head to state for a 3A state quarterfinal against Jackson, which is also starting a rotation as host for the 3A state tournament this season. In previous years, the tournament had taken place in Sheridan. Jackson enters the tournament 11-3 overall and carrying the No. 1 ranking in Wyoming 3A girls’ soccer.
The winner of that contest will advance to the semifinals to meet the winner of the Buffalo-Torrington quarterfinal pairing on Friday.
Championship, third-place and consolation championship games will take place Saturday in Jackson.