With time winding down in the first half of Friday afternoon’s semifinal game of the state soccer tournament, the Powell High School boys’ soccer team was in an unfamiliar …
With time winding down in the first half of Friday afternoon’s semifinal game of the state soccer tournament, the Powell High School boys’ soccer team was in an unfamiliar position.
The Panthers trailed Torrington 1-0, falling behind for just the second time this season.
Torrington had turned a successful counterattack into a goal midway through the opening half; before that, PHS senior Sam Bauer hit the back of the net in the 17th minute but was ruled offside.
Although the Panthers dominated possession for the entire half and had several shots on goal, they weren’t able to capitalize — until they did.
“We did not panic,” head coach David Gilliatt said. “We just needed to have a little more composure in front of goal.”
In the 38th minute — two minutes before halftime — junior Hawkin Sweeney hit an equalizer in the box to make the halftime score 1-1.
“It was very well-timed,” Gilliatt said. “I knew we could still fight back if we went to halftime down a goal, but it sparked us even further going into halftime.”
Powell never looked back: After returning from the locker room, PHS added two more goals, winning 3-1 over the Trailblazers for a spot in Saturday’s 3A State Championship game.
Sweeney scored his second goal of the game on a cross from Jesse Trotter before Garrett Morris struck one past Torrington’s keeper in the last 15 minutes. Between a strong performance in goal from Ashton Brewer and exceptional defense from Matthew Hobbs and Landon Sessions, the Panthers prevailed with a comfortable victory.
On Thursday, PHS took down Riverton 3-2 in the quarterfinals. Facing a Wolverines squad that played very defensively — with nearly all 11 players in the box for most of the match — the Panthers still saw plenty of offensive opportunities.
Morris drew a penalty in the box early in the first half to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead at the break. And Sessions and Trotter scored goals in the second half to give Powell a 3-0 cushion.
By the time Riverton scored back-to-back goals, there were only two minutes left. Powell’s back line and midfielders played keepaway well enough to escape with the one-goal win.
“We didn’t play our greatest game,” Gilliatt admitted, “but at the end of the day, we won and my guys were well-rested, so I was satisfied with the result.”
In Saturday’s title game, the Panthers face their toughest test of the tournament thus far: No. 1 seed Worland. WHS has defeated Powell twice this year, both by one goal, but the Panthers will be looking for revenge.
“The mentality going into tomorrow’s game with Worland is to win,” Gilliatt said. “We believe we have the fresher team and the right tools for the job. I’m extremely proud of my boys for how well they’ve done this season. We are perfectly prepared for this moment.”
Saturday’s contest begins at 3 p.m. and will be played at Cheyenne South High School.
Powell 3, Riverton 2
Goals — Garrett Morris 1, Landon Sessions 1, Jesse Trotter 1
Powell 3, Torrington 1
Goals — Hawkin Sweeney 2, Morris 1; Assists — Trotter 1, Sam Bauer 1