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Girls soccer splits on road

Regular season ends with ‘toughest week’ 

A return to fundamentals propelled the Powell Panthers’ girls’ soccer team to a weekend road win, its first since April 22.

“We always have to go back to basics,” said PHS head coach Isaac Reyesmejia.

Powell (5-8, 1-2 Northwest Quadrant) shut out Pinedale 3-0 on Saturday after losing by the same score in Lander Friday.

Goals by senior Haley Wichman (assisted by senior Kelly Vezain), senior Rebecca Pratt (Wichman) and junior Aimee Kawano (unassisted) proved more than enough firepower to beat the Wranglers.

It was the first time in six games that Powell scored more than one goal. But Reyesmejia said it was the Panthers’ defense that took control of the game.

“We really didn’t give up the ball or give them a whole bunch of scoring opportunities,” the coach said.

Powell had its chances, though it took only one corner kick, against the Tigers (12-1, 4-0 Southeast) Friday afternoon, but couldn’t convert any into scores.

“The chances were there,” Reyesmejia said. “We took some shots and we could have definitely scored and kept ourselves in the game.”

The Panthers were unable to find the back of the net, but the coach had no complaints about the girls’ efforts against the unanimously picked No. 1 team in 3A.

“The girls did an awesome job trying to grind it out against (Lander),” he said.

Saturday’s win came after a difficult stretch in the midseason schedule took the Panthers out of their comfort zone, Reyesmejia said.

“When you play teams that are as good as the ones we’ve played — the Buffalos, the Jacksons and the Landers — sometimes you look at the competition on the field and sometimes you have a tendency to get away from the things that will work for you,” the coach said.

But Powell found its footing Saturday morning in Pinedale, and looked improved in every area.

“The spacing, the passing, the shots on goal,” Reyesmejia said. “And this week we’ll just work on getting better. We just need to capitalize on the opportunities that are given to us.”

Now the team will try to keep that groove as it enters this week’s slate of games, which has the Panthers playing three games in three days.

“This is going to be our toughest week, probably, because of the back-to-back-to-back,” Reyesmejia said.

The competition promises to create as much trouble as the busy itinerary.

The Panthers begin their three games in three days by hosting the Worland Warriors at 4 p.m. Thursday. The game is a make-up date for the April 29 contest that was postponed due to weather.

A victory over Worland (8-5, 1-1) would give the Panthers a 2-2 quadrant record and could clinch them at least a second-place finish in the Northwest.

Worland visits Cody today (Tuesday) as the Warriors look to avenge a 3-0 loss they suffered April 17. The Fillies (8-5, 2-1) would clinch the Northwest with a win today.

The Panthers then travel to Star Valley (9-4-1, 3-0-1 Southwest) Friday and Jackson (4-5-1, 1-1-1 Southwest) in Saturday’s regular season finale.

Reyesmejia said his team is expecting a grueling trio of matches and will make sure the Panthers “rest themselves properly and get themselves ready for it.”

“Physically, you’re going to be tired out,” he said. “You’re going to be worn down a little bit.”

But a deep rotation is expected to keep the Panthers fresh.

“Our substitution has been pretty consistent over the past couple weeks, and I’ve been getting a lot of productivity off the bench,” Reyesmejia said. “All the girls know that they need to be ready to step up, especially everyone that is on the bench.”

Powell’s win over Pinedale coincided with a shift in the team’s formation. Senior Cassy Vezain was moved to the middle-back to play in front of senior captain and center-back Carly Jo Klein, giving the Panthers more of a 4-4-2 look.

“I noticed we were a little bit thin back there,” Reyesmejia said. “As the season moves along, you see what works and you see what doesn’t. You kind of shift around as you need.”

Cassy Vezain responded to the move with solid play in the Panthers’ backfield.

“She definitely stepped up and played a lot of minutes,” Reyesmejia said. “(She was) being aggressive and  being a vocal leader.”

Freshman keeper Gabby Hirsch battled through a minor back injury (Reyesmejia called it a “tweak”) to earn her fourth clean sheet of the season.

“She gave it her all,” Reyesmejia said. “She’s a young player, so she’s going to learn from the experience that she’s getting right now.”

Hirsch made seven saves against the Wranglers and stopped 13 of Lander’s 16 shots.


PHS girls' soccer schedule
  22   Pinedale   Forfeit
  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
  22   Cody   1-0 W
  25   Buffalo   6-1 L
  26   Jackson   2-1 L
  2   Lander   3-0 L
  3   Pinedale   3-0 W
  8   Worland   4 p.m.
  9   Star Valley   4 p.m.
  10   Jackson   11 a.m.
  22-24   STATE   TBA
  Overall Record: 5-8; Conference: 1-2

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