PINEDALE – The Pinedale Wrangler boys’ soccer team demonstrated its grit with three games in four days.
Fighting frigid temperatures, spitting snow and wind on Saturday, April 23, Pinedale fell in a tight game to Powell, 5-2. Returning to the pitch on Monday, the boys played Cody in a game rescheduled due to weather.
Cody scored the lone goal early in the first half before the Pinedale defense stepped up its intensity, shutting down one scoring attempt after another. The final score stood at 1-0 in Cody’s favor.
The team hit the road less than 24 hours later to play Lander on Tuesday, April 26. Lander defended its home turf for the win, 6-0.
“In our games against Powell and Cody, we played really well,” said head coach J.D. Dudrey. “In the Cody game, we possessed the ball better than we have all season. We strung passes together and created offensive opportunities, but could never get the ball in the net. Against Lander, things didn’t go great – you could really see the toll it takes from playing three games in four days. All our athletes played well.”
The Panthers scored two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game. The Pinedale defense regrouped and tightened its wall around the net. Senior Jackson Harber and junior Holden Saxton cleared the ball from the backfield.
Freshman Edwin Vega Hernandez led a charge into Panther territory. Defensive work by sophomore Dustin Larsen and junior Andy Jones kept the Powell offense at bay. Sophomore goalie Brody Hamby dove for three saves.
Hamby opened the second half with a save. Larsen deflected a shot with a header.
Powell managed to break through and score its third goal.
Sophomore Colbin March and senior Gaige Zook drove the ball deep into Powell’s zone.
Powell scored on a free kick followed by a penalty kick before the Wrangler offense answered.
Zook delivered a pass to sophomore Graham Harber. Harber dribbled the ball down the center and kicked it into the net to score Pinedale’s first goal.
Hamby prevented Powell from scoring again with a pair of saves.
With 37 seconds remaining on the clock, Graham Harber scored Pinedale’s second goal.
The Broncs scored right out the gate before the Pinedale defense clamped down. Cody attempted multiple shots but was met repeatedly by a determined and coordinated backfield. Graham Harber, senior Jafet Martinez and sophomore Jayce Ramage frequently held the line at midfield.
Saxton and Jackson Harber cleared the ball several times. Senior James Winkelkotter deftly maneuvered the ball back into Cody territory on numerous occasions.
Larsen and Vega Hernandez both sent deep headers over midfield. Sophomore Dylan Call wound up for a powerful clearance.
Martinez and freshman Christian Sosa-Sanchez struck into Bronc territory and Martinez sent a shot on goal. Hamby caught two saves and nimble footwork by Jones shut down Cody’s attempts to score.
The Pinedale offense spent more time across midfield in the second half. March and Martinez led the first charge. Zook deflected a shot on goal with a header. Larsen launched a deep header over midfield.
Hamby caught a save. March snatched a steal and Sosa-Sanchez drove deep into Cody territory. Winkelkotter dribbled down the field and made a shot on goal. Ramage stopped a pair of shots with headers.
The Tigers proved a tenacious opponent for the fatigued Wranglers. Lander set up a 3-0 lead by the end of the first half and maintained its momentum through the second half.
The Wranglers take a well-deserved weekend off before charging back into action the first full weekend of May.