WENATCHEE — The Panthers fought hard on Saturday but they weren’t able to overcome the West Valley attack led by junior Kendall Moore, who scored two goals in a 3-1 win.
Wenatchee had its chances, especially in the second half, the Panthers just weren’t able to take convert.
“This game far too often is not who is the best team, but who makes the fewest mistakes and whether or not you can capitalize on them,” head coach David Vasquez said after the loss. “We had a couple of mistakes and (West Valley) capitalized. They also had moments where they lost focus but we weren’t able to take advantage. That’s the story of the game.”
The game was tight through the first 15 minutes and scoreless until Moore cracked a shot from just outside the 18 that glanced off Wenatchee keeper Ana Jarecki’s fingertips and into the net. Moore had generated another nice opportunity a few minutes prior but sliced her shot just wide of the far post.
The Panthers responded well over the next 20 minutes and started to play with a little more intention. Wenatchee held possession and generated a few good shots before Masyn Heggem stuffed in a rebound to level the score at 1-1 in the 36th minute.
Heading into the half, Wenatchee felt good having tied up the game and contained Moore for the majority of the half.
“I thought we did relatively well,” Vasquez said. “It’s always tough when you know the team has a player that is that much of a game-changer. Do you prepare (the girls) ahead of time and make her a vital point of the gameplan or just go out and have them do what they know how to do. I thought that we did a good job of limiting her chances after the frist goal.”
The Panthers continued to hold possession in the second half, they just weren’t able to execute in the final third. There were several balls that skipped across the face of the goal, but the Panthers couldn’t get a boot on them.
Wenatchee made a mistake while attempting to clear a ball in the 68th minute that Moore jumped on. She fired a shot at Jarecki, who made the initial save but the ball bounced right back to Moore and she chipped it in to give West Valley a 2-1 lead.
“We just had one player slip and she capitalized on it,” Vasquez said.
The Panthers pushed numbers forward over the last 12 minutes but they weren’t able to get an equalizer. The Rams then put the game on ice with their third goal in the 78th minute.
“At that point, forget about the third goal we were pushing forward trying to chase,” Vasquez said. “I thought once again Natalie Zacarias played a great game and she was able to shut Moore down for the most part. In the second half, it felt like it was just a matter of time before we scored. We're just struggling with being able to finish.”
Wenatchee will have a couple of days to regroup and get ready for Tuesday’s showdown with Eastmont. The Panthers lost 1-nil to their cross-bridge rival last month but controlled possession for most of the game and generated good chances. It’s going to be a battle.
“We don’t require a whole lot of motivation for this one,” Vasquez said. “It just requires individual and collective belief to get the result we want.”
Kickoff at the Apple Bowl is at 7 p.m.