By TAYLOR GRAFFT
Lucas Rizzotto, placekicker for the Liberty Hill Fightin’ Panther football team has always been good with his feet. He had to be ready at a moment’s notice to go into the game and kick an extra point or a field goal.
With the Panther football season ending with a District Title and Bi-District Championship, Rizzotto has turned to his second-favorite sport — soccer.
Rizzotto has had a constant and easy transition into soccer because of the relationship he’s formed with Head Coach Darren Bauer, who was coaching him in football this fall and will now be coaching him in upcoming soccer scrimmages.
“Coach Bauer has helped me through a bunch of things,” Rizzotto said. “In football, he’s made me a better player and I can already feel myself getting better at soccer with his coaching.
“I think this is a lot more physical sport for me,” said Rizzotto. “You have to be a little more fit (in soccer). Because I was a kicker in football, I didn’t have to be as fit and my number was only called a few plays in the game. For soccer it’s 90 minutes and it’s constant.
“I feel like soccer fits my skill sets a lot more,” Rizzotto said. “I’ve been playing soccer since I was three years old.”
Rizzotto added that he’s been playing club on the Lonestars in Cedar Park.
He said his favorite position on the field is defense or defensive midfield.
When Rizzotto heard that soccer was coming to Liberty Hill High School, he was excited and started asking his coaches and friends what the schedule and practices would be like. Many of his friends on the team have played with him before on recreational teams — something he believes will help build team chemistry at Liberty Hill for the future.
Rizzotto added that a lot of the players are using these scrimmages as a tribute for the seniors who won’t get to play in official matches or district games next season.
“I’m really excited to be playing with these seniors and having them get a chance to play soccer before they graduate,” Rizzotto said. “Even though the seniors aren’t going to be able to play an official season, it’s really good to have them helping us out and making the transition from rec-league to the Liberty Hill team to help us prepare for next year. We’re all really excited to play with them because we all love them and couldn’t do this without them.”
With the “unofficial season” as many are calling it set to kick off on Dec. 30 against Wimberley, Rizzotto and his Liberty Hill teammates are gearing up for eight scrimmages and one tournament that will help bring the interest of the Liberty Hill community to high school soccer.
Rizzotto has grown up watching the Italian soccer league (Serie A) with his family and is excited for the World Cup coming in the summer of 2014.
“I think with the success of both the men’s and women’s teams in the past that it’s caused a lot of young players to really get interested and inspired about playing soccer,” Rizzotto said. “Even if kids weren’t soccer players before watching the World Cup, they will get the chance to experience that now and seeing how far the American teams go will inspire them. I think it will get a lot more people interested in soccer.”
Rizzotto said that kicking a field goal is a lot like taking a free kick in soccer and he’s come to embrace the game of soccer over the years.
“Since I grew up with it, it’s been a sport I’ve come to know and love,” Rizzotto said. “I feel like if you practice and get good at soccer, it can really help you in all other sports because of the fitness level that is required.”