Powell will face off against Lander in the quarterfinals.
“We didn’t get down when Douglas took the lead on us,” said Panther soccer coach Travis Rapp. “That was the biggest difference. During the season we’d let teams get a couple goals on us and we’d shut down. Today, we just kept fighting and stayed within our game plan.”
Early on, it appeared Douglas’ speed up front caught the Panthers off guard. The Bearcats made a number of early runs to put pressure on the Panthers’ defensive unit, scoring a pair of goals for a 2-0 lead. The latter of those two goals came on a well-struck free kick from near the top of the goal box. The shot grazed the top of the Panthers’ defensive wall before dipping into the top right corner of the goal. The shot also forced the Panthers into an alignment change.
“We went from a 4-5-1 to a 3-5-2 in an effort to get some more people forward and try to slow down their forwards a little,” Rapp explained. “It’s a formation we’ve used throughout the regular season, so the kids knew what to do. We’d practiced it for the game.”
The shift had its intended result as the Bearcats’ breakaway chances slowed notably. The Panthers cracked the scoreboard late in the first half as Trey Oullette took the ball off a feed from Jeff Pool and buried it in net to halve Douglas’ lead going into intermission.
Douglas recovered the goal early into the second half, but the two-goal lead didn’t last long. Ty Oullette found himself on the receiving end of a throw-in from Heston Swenson and buried the shot to again move the Panthers within a goal.
The Panthers’ senior struck two more times in the final 13 minutes of the contest, going 2-for-2 on penalty kick conversions. The first came on a kick after Powell’s Ethan Landers was tackled inside the penalty zone by a Douglas defender. Ty Oullette beat the Bearcats’ keeper to his left as the diving Douglas goalkeeper was only able to get his fingertips to the ball.
Minutes later, Douglas’ defense was whistled for a hand ball in the box as the Northeast quadrant’s No. 2 team reached up to deflect a threatening crossing pass across the mouth of the goal. Ty Oullette once again stepped in to bury the penalty kick, this time not allowing the Bearcats’ keeper to touch the ball.
The shot gave the Panthers their first lead of the game at 4-3, but it wouldn’t last long. As the Bearcats furiously tried to tie the game, Powell defender Dewey Schwahn was whistled for taking down a Douglas forward on a one-on-one situation in the Panthers’ goal box. Douglas converted the penalty kick on a swerving shot that froze freshman goalkeeper Sean Wagner.
Game officials whistled the end of regulation time seconds after the Panthers put the ball back in play on the restart.
In the extra time, Powell survived 10 minutes going into the wind without allowing Douglas a serious scoring threat. Eight minutes into the second overtime, Ty Oullette gathered a loose ball midway between the goal and midfield stripe. After carrying the ball forward a few yards, the Panther senior struck a shot from 25 yards that sailed over the Douglas keeper’s head and into the top left corner of goal for the game winner.
“That was a great ball,” Rapp said of Oullette’s game-winning goal. “It caught them a bit by surprise.”
The win improves the Panthers to 4-12 on the season while eliminating Douglas from state competition. Powell faces Lander (10-3-1) at 11 a.m. on Thursday in Jackson. The winner will face the winner of the Star Valley-Worland quarterfinal. Buffalo, Torrington, Jackson and Cody are on the opposite half of the bracket.
“If we can play like we did for all but the first 10 minutes or so of this game, we can play with Lander,” Rapp said of his team’s quarterfinal draw in Jackson. “We held them pretty much scoreless in the second half when we played them at our place. We just need to play our style and possess the ball. Hopefully we can build on what we did here and peak at the right time.”