“It was just one game,” said PHS head coach Travis Rapp. “We can still meet our goals. If we beat Worland on Tuesday (6 p.m. in Powell) we win our quadrant.”
Rapp said his team did not play up to its potential and, long break or not, that lands on his shoulders.
“When a team loses a game like that, it always falls on the coach,” he said.
He hopes, however, that the sting of the loss makes a lasting impression on his players.
“Now they know what it feels like to lose to a team that they probably felt like they should have beat,” Rapp said. “That’s a good thing to learn. Hopefully it felt bad enough that we can work hard and not let that happen again.”
The one-goal loss to Cody (4-5, 1-2) was considered an upset, but Rapp said it wasn’t wholly unexpected.
The Broncs are a young team and Rapp predicted they would improve as the season went on.
“We talked about it after we beat Cody at home, that at Cody it’s going to be a battle,” Rapp said.
Powell didn’t do what made it such a formidable team in the season’s first four games, namely controlling the ball and the match’s tempo.
“We didn’t come out and win as many 50-50 balls as we usually do and we played a little more flat-footed than we usually do,” Rapp said.
But it’s not time to panic in Pantherland.
“Those are small things that are easy to fix,” Rapp said. “Two weeks off, there’s going to be some rust.”
Powell’s defense surrendered goals (its fourth and fifth allowed) for only the second match this season but the Panthers lost the rematch by failing to convert its chances on the offensive end.
The PHS wings struggled to move the ball toward the middle of the field and settled for low-probability shots from extreme angles.
Cody kept its defense near the center of the field and created a crowded midfield, making it difficult for Powell to find room to create in front of the goal.
“They overload their middle like crazy, they almost don’t have outside mids,” Rapp said.
The Panthers tried to make the proper adjustments in the second half.
“I think we did a better job of exploiting that and getting the ball out wide in the second half,” Rapp said
A Cody foul midway through the second half led to Powell’s only goal of the day, scored by Kristian Stenlund in the 59th minute.
Emilio Raya Jr. put the free kick on net, forcing the Cody keeper to make a play on the ball, and the rebound deflected back toward the center of the box and was buried by Stenlund, who cut the Broncs’ lead in half.
“(Stenlund) came out and gave us a good spark off the bench,” said Rapp, who also hinted that the sophomore could see more playing time in upcoming games.
Forwards Ty Herd and Tyler Ouellette did all they could do to even the score. Herd’s elite speed was on full display Tuesday as he outran his mark several times to track down long passes up the right wing.
“What an athlete, running down balls, just amazing,” Rapp said. “Man, I’m glad he’s not running track anymore.
“If we get those balls a little bit straight, a little bit closer in the field, he probably has a couple of goals.”
Ouellette showed off his ball-control skills as he tried to maneuver past the Broncs’ back line to get a quality shot.
Sophomore keeper Sean Wagner made 12 saves for the Panthers, but was put in a couple precarious situations.
Cody scored its first goal when Powell unsuccessfully ran a trap in attempt to catch the Broncs offsides.
“If it’s not perfect it’s going to burn you,” Rapp said.
Cody went up 2-0 when a Bronc on a breakaway put his shot over Wagner’s right shoulder.
It feels like an unlucky loss a little bit,” Rapp said. “But I’d rather lose now than in three weeks.”
The boys travel to Buffalo (5-1-1) for a tilt with the Bison at 5 p.m. Friday.
|PHS boys' soccer schedule|
|22||Pinedale|| 7-0 W
|29||Star Valley|| 4-3 OT
|| 2-0 W
|7||Cody|| 3-0 W
|22||Cody|| 2-1 L
|9||Star Valley||6 p.m.|
| Overall Record: 4-1; Conference: 2-1