Boys soccer goes winless in Leander

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Senior Chase Franklin (#8) heads a ball upfield for the Panthers during the Leander ISD Winter Soccer Tournament. Liberty Hill lost each of their three matchups to Leander, Oak Ridge and Marble Falls. (Shannon Hofmann Photo)

Senior Chase Franklin (#8) heads a ball upfield for the Panthers during the Leander ISD Winter Soccer Tournament. Liberty Hill lost each of their three matchups to Leander, Oak Ridge and Marble Falls. (Shannon Hofmann Photo)

By Paul Livengood

The Liberty Hill boys soccer team competed in the LISD Winter Soccer Tournament at Leander High School over the weekend, losing all three of its games.

The Panthers faced off against tournament-host Leander, Oak Ridge and Marble Falls. Leander and Oak Ridge are the second and third 6A teams the Panthers have played in their tough non-district schedule, while Marble Falls is the fifth 5A team played thus far.

The Panthers fell to Leander and Oak Ridge by a score of 4-0 in each matchup, and ended the tournament with a 4-1 loss to Marble Falls.

The “hangover” from the late-night penalty kick shootout with Salado was obvious during the Panthers’ game against Leander just two days later.

“We did not play particularly well this game,” Head Coach Darren Bauer said. “We were still tired from the overtime game on Tuesday against Salado. We held them tightly in the first, we just could not keep possession and they overtook us in the second half.”

Last week’s Salado match was played under difficult conditions that can certainly take a physical toll on the body. Playing through regulation, into two overtime periods, and then to a penalty kick shootout in freezing temperatures with the occasional torrential downpour takes some time to recover from.

However, the advantages of playing 5A and 6A schools early in the season are starting to show, says Bauer.

“We have seen some dividends come off these games,” Bauer said. “It has been taxing, as well. The main thing that the guys have seen and learned is that they can play with these bigger schools. Most of the time the score line has gotten away form us because we have been giving away goals on little mistakes. There have been very few goals that we have conceded that the other team has earned. If we can continue to clean up some of those mistakes, we will accomplish what our pre-district schedule was meant for.”

Bauer added that there were some scoring opportunities for the Panthers against Leander, but they struggled to convert those chances into shots on goal.

Don’t let the Oak Ridge score fool you, as the game was much closer than 4-0 reads in the box score. Liberty Hill trailed just 2-0 with eight minutes left in the game.

“We played well at times, and possessed and had chances, as well,” Bauer said. “Once again, we just made some mistakes that led to goals that we need to clean up.”

The Panthers bounced back against Marble Falls and were tied at halftime 1-1. Freshman Gabriel Hernandez scored the first-half goal on an assist from Jordan Schwingendorf, junior forward. Schwingendorf’s assist was his second of the season. He now leads the team with 10 points. The goal was Hernandez’s first of his career.

Marble Falls bounced back on Liberty Hill and responded in the second half with three goals to hand the Panthers the 4-1 loss.

“We controlled much more of this game, but our legs were very heavy at the end due to a big week of games,” Bauer said.

Bauer said heading into the tournament that he wanted the team to work on possessing the ball and work on their defensive line, which he was pleased with.

“I think we did a decent job with the possession in certain games, and we are starting to understand our angles and defensive duties better,” Bauer said. “Our defensive line had a tough couple of moments, but we are learning how to correct those mistakes and that is what we wanted. Those little problems are the ones that playing bigger, faster schools will help expose, whereas, playing smaller schools, you might not have any problems. So, being able to see those now and fix those exposures will prepare us more when we play the better 4A teams.”

The boys’ team did not play Tuesday, and will take the pitch again on Friday, Jan. 27, against Wimberley on the road at 7:30 p.m.

Paul@LHIndependent.com

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