WENATCHEE — Weather conditions weren’t exactly ideal, with winds gusting to nearly 30 miles per hour at times, but the Wenatchee Panthers were able to squeeze out a 2-1 win Saturday in their season opener against Moses Lake at the Apple Bowl
“The wind was definitely a factor,” Wenatchee head coach Dennis Tronson said after the win. “Sitting on the sidelines was one thing but just walking across the field after the match, my gosh it was just howling. That definitely affected both teams throughout.”
Moses Lake chose to play with the wind in the first half and tried to jump on Wenatchee right off the opening whistle. The Panthers were able to hold off the initial wave and build a few solid attacks from the backline through the first 15 minutes, but a careless turnover on defense led to an easy goal for the Chiefs. Jesus Taboada-Campos picked off a pass and drove into the penalty area before chipping a shot over the Panthers’ keeper to the far post in the 18th minute.
Wenatchee held on though over the final 20 minutes of the half and kept Moses Lake from adding a second goal.
“They wanted to put some pressure on us in that first half and it paid off,” Tronson said. “But again, we had some good opportunities as well; we just weren’t in sync with some of our passes.”
The Panthers came out with a sense of urgency in the second half, dialing up the pressure immediately. Junior Tyler Wisen cracked a couple of nice shots from in tight but couldn’t get one through. But in the 57th minute, sophomore Julian Reyes toed a ball that was pinballing around the box over the Moses Lake keeper to level the score at 1-1.
Wenatchee then added a second goal five minutes later after Wisen scored off a set piece from a corner kick. It was a terrific goal as Wisen made a run to the near post and back-heeled the cross into the net.
Moses Lake made a push over the final 15 minutes to try and even the score but was unable to get anything in close. The Chiefs' best chance came off a free kick from about 30 yards out but their attempt sailed high over the bar.
“Overall, I felt we had good control,” Tronson said. “We made one critical mistake and allowed their best player to get on the end of one but I was very pleased with how we played for the most part.”
For Tronson, because last year’s roster was so senior-heavy, there are a lot of fresh faces on this year’s roster. The back-line is entirely new and so is the keeper. It’ll take some time for everything to gel into a well-oiled unit.
“It’s the first game in 23 months so we’re getting back into it and figuring out where everyone needs to be. It’s all a learning process,” Tronson said. “I got to see some of the younger players play extremely well in the JV game and we’ll probably be bringing up a couple of them to fill in some spots for the Eastmont match.”
Tuesday is a big one for the Panthers, as they’ll travel across the bridge to take on rival Eastmont. It’ll be a big test for Wenatchee.
“I know Vidal will have them prepared and they’re looking at some younger players as well,” Tronson said. “Victor (Andrade) and Alfredo (Gonzalez) are a handful and that is something we’ll have to be aware of, they will be extremely dangerous.”
Eastmont beat Chelan 6-nil in its opener on Saturday.
Kickoff Tuesday at Eastmont Stadium is at 7 p.m.