Still seething after a 5-0 dismantling at home at the hands of the Powell High School girls soccer team last month, the Worland Lady Warriors came to Panther Stadium Monday looking for a little payback.
A hat trick by Worland senior Casey Wassum and a few near misses by the home team later, Worland got exactly that, heading back home with a 3-1 win.
“We played OK. Overall I think Worland just wanted the game more, for some reason,” said Powell head coach Jack Haire. “I don’t think we hustled to the ball quite like we should have. We were close, just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
After an early scoring chance by the Lady Panthers just missed, Wassum scored the first of her three goals with 31 minutes left in the first half. With the wind at their backs, the Lady Warriors set Wassum up again with just under 10 minutes left in the opening frame, taking a 2-0 lead into halftime.
“We had a couple of chances in that first half, and it just didn’t happen for us,” Haire said.
The Lady Panthers came out fired up in the second half, pushing the ball up the field with authority and keeping the action down in the Worland zone. After a Jaya Smith shot on goal just missed, teammate Michele Wagner found herself in a similar position moments later, beating Worland’s keeper for Powell’s lone tally of the game.
“Michele [Wagner] and Jaya [Smith] had about identical shots,” Haire said of Wagner’s goal. “Worland has a solid keeper, but Michele [Wagner] has a good sense of awareness of the field. She had about a quarter of a second’s hesitation before she shot that was just enough to find out what the keeper was doing, and she just put the ball right outside to the left of the keeper. It was a beautiful, patient, experienced player’s goal. It was just awesome.”
With about 26 minutes left in the game following Wagner’s goal, Powell continued to keep the pressure on the Lady Warriors’ defense. With the Lady Panthers unable to capitalize on a few late-game opportunities, Wassum scored her final goal on a defensive miscue with just over a minute left in regulation, ending any chance Powell had to send the game into overtime. With the win, Worland maintains their hold on second place in the 3A Northwest Quadrant.
“The loss is tough to take, but I thought we played well,” Haire said. “If we can get into state, if we can win that play-in game that’s going to be coming up, we’ll probably see Worland again. Do I think we can beat them? Yes, I think we can beat them.”
As for Worland’s final goal, Haire’s advice to the team was to shake the error off.
“She [keeper Sydney Olsen] is the only girl on the field who can see the whole field,” Haire said. “She needs to just trust herself, this is her team. Sydney’s a good keeper, she’s going to grow from that stuff. She’s a determined senior this year; she missed out last year, and she wants it this year.”
Powell’s season doesn’t get any easier moving forward, with a game on the road against defending state champion Cody on Tuesday, followed by a trip to Riverton on Friday, April 27. Haire said the team will take the time before the game in Cody to work on defense and the middle.
“With these games coming up, our middle cannot be soft,” he said. “Cody has one girl that has a good turn and can just fire from the 35 and in regularly. It’s nothing for her; it’s almost a chip shot. Then they have four girls that crash.”
If there’s one thing the Lady Panthers have proven this season, according to Haire, is that they can learn from their mistakes. Couple that with a will to win, and Haire likes his chances.
“If something’s not working, we’ll adjust, we’ll fix it,” he said. “But if we don’t win another game, we have played one heck of a season. But I believe we’re not done yet.”