For most of the 80 minutes on Tuesday at Trapper West, it was a game that was anyone’s to have.
Starting out in a light drizzle, the Panthers and Warriors played to a scoreless first half in their Northwest region contest. The standoff continued in the second half, even as the rains abated. Both teams were able to release some shots on net, but both goalkeepers proved up to the task.
That finally changed with just under five minutes remaining in the contest. A frantic scrum for a loose soccer ball deep in the Panthers’ defensive zone ended when the ball dropped onto the toe of a Warriors’ forward, who was able to direct it past Powell goalkeeper Sierra Baker and into the goal.
The Panthers were unable to get an equalizing goal in the closing minutes.
“We didn’t do a good job of clearing the ball,” Hanlin said of the game’s deciding sequence. “We had a lot of people in position defensively, made a good play to deflect the crossing pass, but we didn’t do a good job of clearing the ball from in front of our goal.”
The Panthers’ coach also expressed concern over his team’s pace of play in the contest.
“The energy level just didn’t seem to be there,” said Hanlin. “We were missing a couple seniors again, and that definitely hurt some. We’ve been playing all these ranked teams though, and now we get one that wasn’t ranked and I felt we kind of came down to their level rather than playing at the level we had been against Cody and Lander.”
Those games, which saw the Panthers fall 1-0 at Lander last Thursday and 4-0 to Cody on Saturday, combined with Tuesday’s loss, drop the Panthers to a 1-5-1 record overall. Powell is now 0-2 in quadrant play.
“Lander was very much the same thing as today,” Hanlin said. “It was a game that we could have won, but just didn’t find a way to make it happen. Overall, that was probably the best game we’ve played so far this season though, because Lander is a strong team.”
The Tigers were ranked fourth in Class 3A at the time that game took place.
In the Cody game, Hanin said his team struggled some when it had to play into a significant breeze that howled across the pitch during the game.
“Cody has some strong players and they were relentless with their pressure at times,” Hanlin said.
The Panthers are off for more than a week. The team next plays at home against Jackson on April 15.
“Between now and then, we need to work on our passing and work on our finishing,” said Hanlin, whose team has been held scoreless in four consecutive games. “We’ve got Pinedale coming in right after that, so we’ll need to be ready to go.”