It was a weekend of firsts for the Powell High School girls’ soccer team, as the squad finished 1-2 at the 2019 Todd Malonek Southwest Invitational in Green River.
The Lady Panthers won their first game of the season in the tournament’s opening round on Friday, a 2-1 overtime thriller against Douglas. The game was decided by a shootout, also a first for PHS head coach Jack Haire in his five years at the helm of the program.
Powell followed that with its first game under the lights later that evening, this time coming out on the losing end of an OT shootout to eventual runners-up Worland.
Playing for fifth place Saturday, the Lady Panthers came up short against 4A Green River 4-0, but coach Haire said there’s a lot of good to take out of his team’s 1-2 finish.
“As a whole, our starting team is very solid,” Haire said. “It showed against a good Douglas team and a good Worland team. We played so good, especially against Douglas, I was so proud of our girls.”
The coach praised the team’s entire defensive unit.
“Our sweeper Jalie Timmons had an outstanding weekend, as did Jaighden Raighment, Payton Asher, Sadie Wenzel and Sidney Karst,” Haire said. “They just did outstanding.”
The Lady Panthers are scheduled to face Pinedale in their home opener at 3 p.m. Friday at Panther Stadium.
Lady Panthers 2, Douglas 1 (3-2 OT Shootout)
The Lady Panthers opened the tournament against Douglas, a team they battled to a 1-1 tie last season.
In this year’s meeting, Powell and Douglas again were tied at 1 through regulation, but because of tournament rules, the game was decided by a shootout.
“That was definitely interesting,” Haire said of the experience.
The game was a defensive battle from the outset, though Powell was moving the ball “extremely well,” according to Haire. The Lady Panthers drew first blood at the 20:45 mark of the first half on a goal by Kayla Kolpitcke, assisted by Jaya Smith. The goal gave Powell a 1-0 lead at the half.
“Jaya Smith made a beautiful drop pass to Kayla Kolpitcke, and Kayla just fired a shot from the 30 [yards] and blasted the top right corner of the net,” Haire said. “It’s nice to have a lead at halftime.”
The Lady Panthers held the lead for much of the second half, but were unable to add an insurance goal. Then, with two minutes left in regulation, the Lady Bearcats found the back of the net to knot the game at 1.
“It was a corner kick for Douglas, and it was a decent kick,” Haire said. “Our keeper got her hands on it, but it slipped out of her hands. We had a defender there to clear it, but she missed the kick and the ball went in the net. It’s just the way the ball rolls sometimes.”
Suddenly finding themselves tied, Powell headed off into uncharted territory, choosing its five best shooters to compete in the shootout. After the first round of kicks, the score was tied at 3-3; the second round was sudden death.
“It was pretty intense,” Haire said. “Sudden death was one player from our team, and one from theirs, and they each take a kick. We made the first one, so did they. We missed the second, so did they. On the ninth round we made and they missed, giving us the win.”
“Nine kickers deep we had to go,” the coach said. “It was about the most stressful way to end it you can imagine.”
Keeper Mattie Larsen finished the game with 17 saves.
Worland 1, Lady Panthers 0 (4-3 OT Shootout)
After never participating in a shootout before the Southwest Invite, the Lady Panthers found themselves in a second one in as many games and on the same day. The Powell girls lost to last year’s 3A state runner-up Worland 4-3 in OT Friday night.
Neither team could find the back of the net in regulation, with Haire saying the two teams “match up well.”
“I thought going in we’d give Worland a good game, like we did last year. We played them straight up,” he said. “We were a bit more sloppy on the ball that second game as opposed to Douglas; our touches weren’t quite as clean. But we were still playing solid enough soccer to shut them down and vice-versa. We were very equally matched.”
With the scoreboard flashing donuts at the end of regulation, the two teams headed into the shootout, with Worland winning the Battle of the Penalty Kicks 4-3.
“We had just gone through one of these four hours ago, so I thought, ‘Man, we have this sewed up. We’ve already been through it, the pressure’s off, we just need to make some kicks,’” Haire said, but “it just didn’t happen for us.”
The teams remained tied at 3-3 after the first five kicks and then, on their seventh kicks, Worland made and Powell missed.
Worland went on to finish second in the tournament, losing to Rock Springs 2-0 in the title game.
Green River 4,
Lady Panthers 0
Saturday’s contest featured Powell’s first 4A opponent of the season, host Green River. With the Lady Panthers knocked out of the championship round, Haire decided to give backup keeper Shaelynn Theriault a look against the Lady Wolves, replacing starter Mattie Larsen. With Powell unable to get anything going offensively, Green River walked away with the 4-0 win.
“After starting Larsen the first two games, who played fantastic for us, it felt like a good time to get Shaelynn [Theriault] some more experience,” he explained. “I had promised her she could have a game, so we gave her Saturday. She gave a good effort, but against a 4A school, they can kind of pick you apart.”
Haire also took the opportunity to substitute at other positions as well, giving the younger members of the team some valuable game experience.
“We were all about the experience against Green River,” he said. “They put up four and did what they needed to do. The good thing is all of the girls who made the trip for us got to play.”