On a night set aside to honor its 10 seniors, the Powell High School girls soccer team battled against the No. 1-ranked Cody Fillies, but endured another frustrating loss.
Cody’s hard-fought 2-1 win gave the Filles (13-2) the season sweep against the Lady Panthers (4-8-3, 1-3), as well as a perfect 4-0 record in the 3A Northwest Quadrant.
“I thought we played pretty well, actually,” said Powell head coach Jack Haire. “I just hated the outcome. It’s crazy some of the obstacles we have to overcome, especially when they’re made an hour or two before game time.”
With bad blood still evident from Cody’s 2-1 overtime win last month, both teams played physical from the start. Kayla Kolpitcke, who missed last weekend’s games against Star Valley and Pinedale due to prior commitments, made her presence felt early, just missing a goal in the opening minutes. She’d make up for it a short time later, finding the back of the net and giving the Lady Panthers a 1-0 lead.
“Kayla’s shot was perfectly set up, a nicely executed shot,” Haire said. “Treva Robson had a nice assist on the goal.”
Cody tied it up about eight minutes later off a deflected shot that Fillie Jules Novakovich was able to put back for the score. Keeper Melynda Davison had made several nice saves to that point, and after blocking the initial shot, was unable to handle the rebound.
“Melynda [Davison] did good today; I thought she had a solid game,” Haire said. “She kept confident and calm. She instructed well and she listened well.”
Both teams were gassed midway through the second half, and Haire did his best to keep fresh legs on the field.
“I played just about everybody [Tuesday],” he said. “I tried to distribute the time well, and at the same time try to win the game.”
Davison continued to play well in net the second half, finishing with 13 saves on the day. But in the game’s 64th minute, Filly forward Moran Heydenberk scored the game-winner, blasting a shot from 25 yards out to put Cody up 2-1. Powell created a few more scoring opportunities, but eventually ran out of clock.
“We wanted the game, we wanted to send Cody home with a loss. We didn’t like what they said about us in their hometown paper,” coach Haire said, referring to a remark printed in the Cody Enterprise that the Lady Panthers play “boot ball.”
“I don’t think that was displayed today,” Haire said. “We hit them with their own game, strategy-wise.”
Part of that strategy was placing players in different positions — a strategy that seemed to work.
“I moved Joey [Haire] to a different position, and I relied on Jalie Timmons’ leadership as a sweeper with a freshman back there, as well as Mariah Phister,” coach Haire said. “Our goal today was to get stronger in the middle and still shut down [Cody’s] Genevieve Sauers, while getting a couple of more opportunities to score.”
Powell’s seniors were recognized following the game, as each player was escorted down the track in front of the grandstands by family members. Coach Haire said he was looking at a photo one of the players had from roughly seven years ago, when most of the girls were playing on his Heart Mountain club team.
“There were 11 girls in the picture, and seven of them are still playing; five of them seniors this year,” coach Haire said. “You look at a picture like that, and you wonder where the time goes. It goes so fast ... It’s just phenomenal to see the girls’ growth and their ‘no quit’ attitude.”
The Lady Panthers head to Worland on Friday to play Buffalo (7-7-3, 1-1-2), the No. 2 seed out of the 3A Northeast Quadrant. The winner will advance to state, and if Powell emerges victorious, Haire hopes to see Cody again in Jackson.
“Strategically, we’re working well together as a team,” coach Haire said. “Our girls moved the ball around well today, and had good communication. I just hope we can get into state and play them [Cody] again, because I truly believe that they’re not going to beat us a third time.”
The seniors introduced at the game were Aspen Aguirre, Yessica Carrasco, Joey Haire, Sadie Hogan, Heather Lieser, Gabby Mendoza, Talisha Acton, Addie Miller, Mariah Phister and Treva Robson.