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Panther teams swept by Cody

Molly McCray prepares to head a ball for Powell during Friday action at Cody. The Panthers lost 3-0 and now must play their way into the state tournament later this month against a team from the Southeast. Molly McCray prepares to head a ball for Powell during Friday action at Cody. The Panthers lost 3-0 and now must play their way into the state tournament later this month against a team from the Southeast. Tribune photo by Randal Horobik

Boys, girls fall in Northwest quadrant action

After waiting most of the day to see if the weather would allow Friday’s soccer games with Cody to take place, members of the Powell Panthers boys’ and girls’ teams waited an extra hour after arrival before dropping both halves of the varsity doubleheader.

Powell’s girls fell by a 3-0 final count. The boys were on the short side of a 5-1 decision.

The delay was caused by a miscommunication regarding the start time between the two Park County schools. Powell officials were under the impression the girls’ varsity and boys’ JV games would kick off at 3 p.m. The mix-up had both Panther teams warming up on fields conspicuously lacking traces of the opposing team.

At least one member of the officiating crew also arrived an hour early and waited in the blustery spring conditions for the 4 p.m. start.

Once the action got started, Fillies fans didn’t have to wait long for something to cheer about. Just three minutes into the game, Cody found itself on a 5-on-3 counterattack, easily beating the outnumbered Powell defense and putting the ball into the back of the net for a score.

That goal held up until late in the first half. With less than two minutes remaining before the halftime intermission, the Fillies bounced a low running shot from the left wing over the outstretched hands of a diving Sierra Baker in goal for the Panthers.

Cody added its third goal just minutes into the second half, knocking home a deflected ball inside the goal box. The two teams played the final 35 minutes without score.

Offensively, the Panthers were able to generate a few break attempts, particularly in the first half. As the game wore on, however, it was progressively played more and more in the Panthers’ defensive zone.

Powell’s girls slide to 2-7-1 this season with the loss.

In the boys’ game, Cody jumped to a 3-0 first-half lead. The Broncs added two more goals in the second half while Charles Wittick assisted Dan Katz in the 65th minute for the only Powell goal of the contest.

“It was a great job by Charles to see Dan at the top of the box and a good job of being unselfish in his passing,” said Panther boys’ coach Travis Rapp. “Dan did a great job of putting the ball into the net with a scrum of people in front of him.”

Rapp also praised his team’s defensive effort in the second half.

“We talked about how we needed to tighten up on a couple of their players in the second half, and for all but two minutes, we did that,” Rapp said. “Although, in those two minutes, they scored two goals on us.”

The Panther boys fell to 2-8 overall with the loss. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams are now mathematically eliminated from winning the 3A Northwest quadrant. Both teams will now have to play their way into the state tournament at season’s end with games against either the second or third-place team from the Southeast quadrant.

“All in all, we are playing well and going to be playing well enough that we will make a good push for state and should compete well in Sheridan,” said Rapp. “We have four more friendlies before our play-in game. We will use them wisely to turn up for the tournament.”

One thing the Panthers could work on during that span will be a formation change Rapp implemented on the fly on Friday. The Powell coach pushed Katz forward to an offensive midfielder position, dropping Cody Wichman back to play central defender and juggling Dewey Schwahn into Katz’s original sweeper position.

“That helped the flow of our offense a little bit,” Rapp said of his initial impression. “You might see that formation a little more in the future if we can get a player ready to take over Dan’s sweeper spot.”

The Panthers return to action on Tuesday (today) when the team hosts Lander for its final home contest of the season. The game was initially scheduled for April 19.

“Not only is the game our Senior Night, but it should also be the last PHS soccer game at Trapper West, where I believe all of the home games have been played in school history. So it is somewhat of a historic night for the boys and girls as well as the alumni. I hope all of Powell comes out and cheers our teams to victory.”

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