Most notably, the Panthers’ coach would like to see his team focus on finishing their opportunities in the weeks ahead.
“We rushed some shots,” Rapp said. “We need to learn that we can take the extra second, take a good quality shot and finish the chance.”
A case in point came in the Panthers’ first game against Green River. After falling behind by a goal on a deflected ball, Powell found itself with a fantastic chance to equalize as a member of the Panthers found the ball on his foot at the six-yard box with no goalkeeper in sight.
But the shot at the open net veered wide and the 4A school was able to hold off the Panthers by that 1-0 count.
“We held possession for well over 50 percent of the game, but just couldn’t finish our opportunities,” Rapp said.
The Panthers came out flat in their second contest of the day, a 4-0 loss to Rock Springs. Rapp noted some defensive breakdowns in that game, observing the Panthers lost their markup assignments at times in the defensive zone.
After two scoreless losses, the Panthers broke out in a big way in their final contest of the day, a 3-1 victory over Rawlins. Rawlins is one of three new programs this season (see related story) in Class 3A.
“We played very well, holding possession for, I would guess, 75 percent of the game,” Rapp said. “We dominated the whole game.”
Tyler Ouellete scored the Panthers’ first goal this season, driving home an assist from Cody Wichman. Wichman would hook up with Dylan Ulmer twice to finish the game with three assists.
“Cody has a real good knack at getting the ball in the right space,” Rapp said. “All three of his assists were nice through balls that allowed our forwards to run onto them. He probably could have had four or five if we could have finished better.”
In the Panthers’ defense, all three of the games were played with a mixture of varsity and JV players. Due to other high school events going on around the state on Saturday, Rapp’s squad included six freshmen making their high school soccer debut. The Panthers’ coach estimated that five players he expects to count on for “significant contributions” this season were unable to make the trip due to other obligations.
“Overall, I saw a lot of things that I liked,” Rapp said of the season’s first weekend. “The boys did a good job of trying to hold possession and do the things we worked on that were a little different from last year. That shows coachability to me. There were a lot of good and positive things.”
Powell returns to action this Friday when Buffalo comes to town. The Panther JV squad kicks off at 3 p.m. at the field north of the high school. The varsity squad plays at 5 p.m. at Trapper West field.
“They beat us at state last year and I know the kids are fired up and ready to get that win back,” Rapp said. “Generally, they’re a pretty athletic team.”