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One is enough: Girls soccer heads to state tourney after qualifying win

The road to state was never going to be an easy one.

There was an extra stop along the way, but by Saturday’s end, Powell beat Torrington in Lander to get to Jackson.

The Powell High School girls’ soccer team advanced to the Class 3A state tournament on the heels of a 1-0 victory against the Trailblazers (7-6-1, 2-2 Southeast) in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying game.

Torrington’s season is finished.

PHS head coach Isaac Reyesmejia said he told his players after the game to “hold on to it. Hold on to this feeling, and definitely hold onto the win.”

The Panthers (7-10, 2-2 Northwest) became the only team in 3A to qualify for state after finishing third in its quadrant, and will open the state tourney against Buffalo (8-5, 4-0 Northeast) at 2 p.m. Thursday in Jackson.

All three Northwest Quadrant teams will compete at state. No. 1 Worland plays Newcastle at 9 a.m. Thursday, and No. 2 Cody will take on Star Valley at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Shelby Nicholson scored on a second-half corner kick from Haley Wichman, and the Powell defense held tight for its third shutout in the past five games.

Reyesmejia passed the credit for Saturday’s win to his players.

“They did an outstanding job and I’m really, really proud of them, and I’m excited for the opportunity we have coming up,” the coach said.

Reyesmejia said the Panthers’ back line, which limited Torrington’s scoring chances, was instrumental in the win.

“But not just on defense; (also) controlling the ball (and) passing the ball,” he said.

Freshman keeper Gabby Hirsch did her part as well, stopping all 12 shots the Trailblazers put on goal.

Defense outshined the Panther offense again, as the Panthers won their fourth 1-0 game of the season.

“We could have easily scored more than what we did,” Reyesmejia said. “We just didn’t put the ball through the net like we wanted to.”

The coach said Torrington also boasted a formidable goalkeeper.

Powell’s lone goal came on a set piece, an area on which the team has been working throughout the season.

“(It was) one of our plays we’ve worked on all year long,” Reyesmejia said. “I saw something on the defense and called it.

“Haley just placed the ball in the perfect spot, and we were able to put it on goal.”

Reyesmejia also thanked Torrington, the team that was a goal away from possibly ending Powell’s season, for providing the Panthers with a challenge that could give them a boost into the first round.

“They were a really good team to go against to start this run,” Reyesmejia said. “They were a tough team, but they were an aggressive team in a good way. It was good for us to play a team like that.”

Buffalo beat Powell 6-1 on April 25, but Reyesmejia said his team can’t enter its first-round match thinking about defeat.

“We can’t go in there with any other mindset other than we got one game and we need to win,” he said.

The Panthers will have at least two more practices in Powell before heading to Jackson.

Reyesmejia said in order to avoid a repeat of the first game against the Bison, the Panthers will “go over our strategy and game plan for Buffalo, and go down there and just take care of business.”

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