May 21, 2017 - By Scott Akanewich, Sports EditorLander's girls won their opener against Powell in overtime, only to follow up with a pair of shutout defeats to finish fourth.
The Lady Tigers of Lander came up just short in their search for a trophy at the Class 3-A state soccer tournament, losing to Buffalo, 2-0, in the third-place game Saturday in Sheridan.
After scoring plenty of goals down the final stretch of the regular season and adding four more in Thursday's opener, the Tigers' offense dried up in their final two matches, although it was more of what the opposition's attack was doing, said Lander head coach Gabe Joyes.
"Both Cody and Buffalo were a handful defensively," he said. "When we have to spend so much time defending, it's difficult for us to be able to transition to our offense."
Against the Lady Bison, it was simply a matter of running into a stronger opponent, said Joyes.
"They had the better of the play," he said. "But, that's just how it goes sometimes."
Lander 4, Powell 3 (OT)
In the Tigers' tournament opener Thursday, it was freshman Abby Renner who struck with both the first and last goals of the game in a dramatic 4-3 victory against Powell which required extra time to decide.
Renner scored the game's opening goal in the 18th minute to give Lander a 1-0 lead, an advantage that asted into halftime.
The game opened up in the second 40 minutes, with scoring chances galore and goals pouring in for both sides like the rain which had soaked the lush fields of the Big Horn Equestrian Center earlier in the day.
Powell equalized through Kayla Kolpitcke in the 42nd minute and from there on out, it was game on.
Kiley McConnell needed only 60 seconds to answer for Lander, netting in the 43rd minute to quickly restore the Lander lead.
However, the Lady Panthers' Jalie Timmons and Kolpitcke struck with back-to-back goals in the 60th and 77th minutes, respectively, giving Powell a 3-2 lead with only three minutes plus stoppage time remaining.
Molly Fehringer scored in the 79th minute to level the match at 3-3, and extra time was required to settle the issue.
After Renner had begun the scoring all the way back in the 18th minute, she provided the game-winner in the 84th minute after controlling the ball on the right side, then lifting a shot over the Powell goalkeeper, sending the Lady Tigers into the semifinals on Friday.
Joyes was overjoyed with the performance of his club, particularly the late heroics by Fehringer, he said.
"It was pretty incredible for us to come back in the limited time we had left," said Joyes. "Molly was the real hero, tying it up for us."
According to Joyes, the result was part and parcel for how his squad has played all season.
"We've had three overtime wins this season," said Joyes. "It's how the girls fight -- they never give up."
Cody 4, Lander 0
In the state semifinals on Friday, the Lady Tigers were defeated by the Fillies of Cody by a 4-0 scoreline.
Cody jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead before adding another pair in the second half on a penalty and a set piece.
Joyes said the defeat to the Fillies was more disheartening than Saturday's defeat.
"It was definitely more disappointing," he said. "We came out flat and were punished for it."
However, the Lander boss wasn't about to use Thursday's emotionally-draining game against Powell as an excuse, he said.
"The scoreline was a bit harsh with how we played in the second half," said Joyes. "I think it was more of a mental thing than being physically tired from the day before."
As for coming up short at the end, Joyes accentuated the positive of a campaign which saw his squad improve by leaps and bounds.
"We had a fantastic season, and it was a wonderful step forward," he said. "Our improvement was great, and I think we have real reason to be optimistic for the future."
At the end of the day in Sheridan, though, it was simply a matter of inexperience for his side, said Joyes.
"It's difficult to play repetitive games against the best teams in the state," he said. "For some of these girls, it was their first time at a state tournament. It takes a lot of concentration to win these games when everyone is all in."
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