Boys soccer improves to 8-0 in district

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By Lance Catchings

The Liberty Hill Panther soccer team 13-2-3 (8-0) made quick work of Florence Tuesday night taking a commanding 6-1 victory. Florence led the game the first few minutes, but the lead was short lived.

“They played us exactly how we thought they would,” said head coach Darren Bauer. “We played a little sloppy at the beginning and they scored a goal to take a 1-0 lead because of our mistake. We responded well and scored right away and controlled the game after that. Those are the little mistakes that we must clean up to be as successful as we want to be.”

Entering the game Bauer thought Florence might try counter attacking to score and he was right. Liberty Hill built a 4-1 lead headed into halftime and added another two goals in the second half for good measure.

“I thought Florence would sit back and defend and try to counter attack on us,” he said. “They have a couple of guys up top that have some speed. I knew if we kept playing the way, we have defensively we wouldn’t have much trouble adjusting to it.”

Liberty Hill shutout Jarrell last Friday night to open the second round of district play. Liberty Hill scored three goals in the first half which gave them some breathing room.

“Since the first time we’ve played Jarrell I believe we have gotten better each game,” he said. “We’ve had five games under our belt since the last time we played them and that is five games that we have gotten better in in my opinion.”

Junior Mason Shipley led the team with three goals on the night. Jaron Frye added two more and Colton Walter and Kegan Taggart each scored one.
Jessie Anaya had two assists on the night. Cade Campbell, Matthew Shipley, Ethan Minix, Frye and Alfredo Chabarria each had an assist on the night as well.

“This time we came out and controlled the game the whole time,” he said. “We made a mistake here or there in the back but had nothing really threatening. I was happy we didn’t do anything like we did against Lampasas where we gave them too many opportunities off us. I think the fact we cleaned that up and possessed well to start the game was good. We put the game away early and had to finish it out. We got some extra players in and they got some good quality minutes.”

Jarrell was the fifth district opponent the Panthers shut out and Bauer is liking more and more what he is seeing from his defense.

“Defensively we have continued to get better all season,” he said. “There has been some regression every now and then but for the most part they have all gotten a little better. They have gotten used to each other and know what we are looking for now.”

Friday the team will travel to play Little River Academy. Earlier this season the game was called in the second half with Liberty Hill up 3-0 due to heavy sleet. Both teams were tied at halftime 0-0 in the first district game.

“Going against Little River Academy we will have to be prepared,” he said. “We went through district undefeated and handled some teams handily. Now we have a bigger target on our back, so I expect them to come out and play tough. Hopefully we can wear them down and like the first game we had. We must take care of the chances we get on goal this time around. Last time we played I felt we let them hang around a bit too much for opportunities we had in that game. We have done a better job of handling opponents outright in the second half of district play we have had so far. Hopefully that continues and we can put that team away early.”

As the Panthers close in on the final stretch towards playoffs, he still has elements he wants to see his team improve.

“I think the two things we need to do before we get to playoffs is solidified the defense a little bit more and make sure we are all on the same page,” he said. “We also need to become more dynamic offensively. There are times during the game when we try to do things one way instead of taking what is being given to us. If we can learn to do that offensively that will be important. It is hard to defend us because we can attack multiple ways, but we have to get better at taking opportunities the other team is giving us.”

Liberty Hill will travel to Salado Tuesday for an important district game and a possible opportunity to wrap up the district championship early.

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