The initial burst of intensity kept the Panthers scrambling through the initial stages of the contest. Dylan Ulmer ran onto a Cooper Wise pass midway through the first half to tally the Panthers’ first goal.
“We told the boys to weather the storm for the first 20 minutes and see if Rawlins started to tire out, which they did,” said Rapp. “As the first half wound down, I told Coach Jacobs that we really needed a second goal before half.”
As it turns out, Rapp wasn’t the only one thinking that way. With three minutes remaining before intermission, Wise made what Rapp described as a “great hustle goal” off a Tyler Ouellette pass. The goal provided Powell a 2-0 halftime lead and changed the complexion of the second half.
“We expected Rawlins to come out in the second half just as hard as they did in the first,” said Rapp.
The Panthers sucked much of the life out of Rawlins early in the second half though as Ouellette and Wise hooked up again, only this time with Wise scoring the assist. His through ball to Ouellette easily enabled the freshman to beat the Rawlins keeper and extend Powell’s lead to three goals.
With a comfortable margin planted on the scoreboard, Rapp started to sag his wing midfielers back into a defensive role as Powell packed the back of the field and challenged Rawlins to prove it could score in traffic.
Ulmer scored an unassisted goal in the 63rd minute to complete the scoring as the Panthers improved to 4-11.
By virtue of the win, Powell advances to face Buffalo in the opening round of the 2011 3A boys’ soccer championships. The game will take place Thursday at 4 p.m. in Sheridan.
The Panthers could be battling some health issues for that contest though. The team’s four-goal victory on Friday may have come with a cost.
Senior Dan Katz injured a knee on the sequence leading up to the Panthers’ fourth goal. Katz is scheduled to see a doctor early this week and Rapp indicated he is “hopeful” that Katz will be able to play in Sheridan.
Also down late in Friday’s game was Panther junior Keithen Schwahn, who was kicked repeatedly while on the ground.
“His injury seemed to be a little more minor,” Rapp said. “He should be ready to go this week.”
The Panthers will face either the winner or the loser of the Lander-Worland quarterfinal contest In Sheridan. Cody, Douglas, Torrington and Jackson round out the state tournament field in Class 3A.