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Lady Panthers to face off against Douglas

Joey Haire (white) battles for the ball against Macy Erickson of Star Valley (red) during the home game on Friday. Joey Haire (white) battles for the ball against Macy Erickson of Star Valley (red) during the home game on Friday. Tribune photo by Mark Davis

Play-in game slated Friday in Worland

Powell High School’s girls soccer team dropped its last two games of the season, setting up a Friday play-in game against Douglas, where the Lady Panthers will try to make the state tournament.

The Lady Panthers lost to Star Valley, 5-0, last Friday and fell to Pinedale, 2-1, on Saturday.

Star Valley scored its five goals in the first half.

“They’re good; they came out firing away,” PHS head coach Jack Haire said of the Braves, adding that, “I’m really proud of us — the second half, we shut them out ... which is saying a lot.”

After the win over Powell on Friday, Star Valley used a couple of late goals to beat the No. 1-ranked Cody Fillies on their home turf on Saturday, 2-1. That was the Fillies’ first loss of the season.

Star Valley rose to the No. 2 ranking with Cody still in the No. 1 position for 3A.

In the first half of the game against the Lady Panthers, the Lady Braves had a tailwind and coach Haire said Star Valley was able to make shots 35-40 feet from the goal.

Melynda Davison had 21 saves against Star Valley, collecting another 19 versus Pinedale.

“Between the last half of the Star Valley game and the first half of the Pinedale game we played 1-0 soccer, and I thought we looked well,” said Haire.

The first half of the Pinedale game “was probably the best soccer I’ve seen us play — the communication, the passing, the shots,” Haire said.

Powell had 22 total shots in the game.

“First half was just spectacular,” said Haire. “But I have to give it to Pinedale's keeper, she had a few diving saves that was pretty spectacular on her part.”

At halftime, the Lady Panthers led the Lady Wranglers 1-0 on a goal from Jaya Smith, assisted by Kayla Kolpitcke.

“I was wide open so I just asked for the pass and then that left corner [was]open so I just aimed it right into the left corner up top,” Smith said, adding that scoring the goal felt good.

Pinedale snuck in two goals to win the game in the second half.

Haire is not sure what changed.

“Maybe combination of the heat and last game of the season. We all wanted to win,” he said. “I’m not sure what happened.”

The next contest for the Lady Panthers will be a loser-out game against Douglas at 5 p.m. in Worland. The winner will advance to the state tournament.

“This has been the focus of the whole year,” said Haire. He added that time flies, and he can’t believe the team is already at this point in the season.

Powell and Douglas met earlier this season at the Green River tournament. In that previous encounter, the Lady Panthers had four injured players and the team had to shuffle players around to fill those vacancies.

After an injury-riddled regular season, the Lady Panthers are “ready to play” Friday, coach Haire said.

One player in particular who has overcome a big injury — a broken ankle sustained in the offseason — is Jalie Timmons.

“Throughout the season [Timmons] has progressed, progressed, progressed and progressed,” said Haire, adding that, “It was just kind of cool to see her come back from a big injury to being able to come back and play.”

The Lady Panthers are heading into the play-in game with a full roster.

“We played them in Green River and lost 4-1, and I know the score had a different meaning than the game, because we definitely outplayed them,” said Smith. “I definitely know we have a chance and we go out and play our hearts. It’s been our goal since the beginning of the season to make it to state.”

Smith said she’s confident in all of her teammates.

“I count on all of them and I know we can do it,” she said.

Of the plan for the play-in game, Haire said that “we’re going to go in and hopefully just play solid aggressive soccer. That’s the most we can do, that’s what we’ve trained all year for through the practices — through the rain, the snow and the sleet and the cold.”

“The drills that get monotonous for the players, I really believe that we are going to be full throttle for that game, just ready to leave it on the field,” he said. “Win or lose, we are going to leave it on the field, We as a team collectively feel we can beat Douglas. It is not going to be easy.”

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