PHS head coach Isaac Reyesmejia said Powell’s three-win weekend could “definitely” be a turning point in the Panthers’ season.
The first-year coach gave credit to his players, who he said have been working hard to break their winless streak.
“A lot of it has to do with them taking ownership of the team,” Reyesmejia said. “As long as we keep working hard we’re going to get better with each game.”
The most successful weekend of the girls’ season lifted the Panthers’ spirits as they enter a nine-day break.
“Winning games always will make you feel better,” Reyesmejia said.
Powell (3-5 overall, 0-2 in the Northwest Quadrant) has lost two of its games by a single goal and another by forfeit but this weekend’s two-day stretch gave the girls a taste of what it’s like to win close games and blowouts.
The Panthers opened the Invitational with a 2-1 win over Riverton on Friday before earning two shutout victories on Saturday. Powell routed Newcastle 7-0 in Saturday’s early game prior to barely edging out Douglas 1-0 in the afternoon.
“We are in every game and we’re going to be there at the end of the season,” Reyesmejia said. “We’re going to be fine.”
The girls’ only loss in Worland was their second of the season versus Star Valley, which beat them 4-1.
Star Valley has outscored the Panthers 7-2 so far this season but the Panthers beat Riverton more handily than the 2-1 score would suggest, and Riverton went on to beat Star Valley 3-2.
Reyesmejia said he believes Powell will face no team that it can’t compete with this season.
“We fight for every ball and for every play, and for one another,” the coach said, adding he’s proud of his players, win or lose, “as long as you can look at each other and look at yourself in the mirror and know you gave everything you have and didn’t just give in and throw in the towel.”
The girls’ first 2014 success came with freshman Gabby Hirsch in goal. Hirsch replaced junior Sonya Montanez midway through the Panthers’ third game of the season at Worland on April 4.
“I definitely have to take my hat off to her because she is a freshman,” Reyesmejia said. “We are putting her in a very tough position.”
Hirsch is not only being asked to protect the Panther goal, but to step in and help lead the PHS defense.
“The goalie (is) the No. 1 leader on the field,” Reyesmejia said. “Being that she’s a freshman she’s learning how to fit in that role.”
Hirsch made 39 saves through four games and recorded the first two blank sheets of her PHS career.
Reyesmejia said the fathers of girls’ striker Haley Wichman and all-state boys’ sweeper Noah Katz attended to practice
Hirsch was helped by the senior leadership of center back Carly Klein.
“She is such a big leader out there on the field for me and for her team,” Reyesmejia said of Klein. “She definitely guides the team.”
The head coach said he left it up to his players to figure out what was wrong after the team came out flat against Douglas Saturday afternoon.
“I gave them a couple minutes to talk amongst themselves and Carly stepped in and showed her leadership,” Reyesmejia said.
Senior Kelly Vezain scored the game-winning goal in the second half to secure Powell’s one-goal victory.
Klein also helped guide a younger-than-usual team to victory on Saturday while some players were away for the PHS prom.
Aside from Hirsch, freshmen Kayla Atkinson and Kiley Cannon also played significant minutes for the Panthers.
“She (Carly) is mentoring those girls and I’m just so very proud of her,” Reyesmejia said.
But the head coach said all his players, from the mainstays in the starting lineup to the reserves on the bench, play a significant role on the team.
“They’re all starting to answer the call which is good to see,” Reyesmejia said.
Vezain and junior Aimee Kawano notched a goal each against Riverton. Senior Haley Wichman scored Powell’s lone goal against Star Valley.
Senior Shelby Nicholson scored a hat trick to lead the Panthers’ blowout of Newcastle Saturday morning. Kawano, Wichman, junior Rebecca Pratt and junior Priscila Reynoso also scored for PHS. It was Reynoso’s first goal of the season.
The Panthers will work on their offense and heal some nagging injuries before they play in Cody on April 22.
“It’s definitely good to have this week without having to play any games because it allows me to get these players healthy again,” Reyesmejia said. The players will have “an opportunity to see the trainer and get proper care.”
The Panthers did not practice on Monday.
When they return to practice today (Tuesday) the coach said his team will “keep working on the importance of controlling the ball and passing” in order to get more frequent and productive scoring chances.
Reyesmejia also said the team will study its play, and the play of some of its opponents, from the first half of the season.
“We’ll do a lot of film watching,” he said. “We got a chance to see some teams this weekend.
“(And we’ll) talk about what’s making us better.”
Helping the team on the road was the Powell faithful that made the trip to Worland one or both of the days.
Seniors Cassy and Kelly Vezain, of Rocky Mountain High School, had SAT testing Friday morning but still made it to Powell’s afternoon game.
“Those girls have awesome parents out there,” Reyesmejia said.
|PHS girls' soccer schedule|
|29||Star Valley|| 3-1 L
|4||Worland|| 3-2 L
|7||Cody|| 3-2 L
|11||Worland Invite|| 1 W, 1 L
|12||Worland Invite|| 2 Wins
|9||Star Valley||4 p.m.|
| Overall Record: 3-5; Conference: 0-2