Boys soccer opens season with scrimmage vs Bastrop
By Paul Livengood
At the end of the month, the Liberty Hill boys soccer team will begin the season with a scrimmage against Bastrop.
Head Coach Darren Bauer and the team enter their third season as a program at Liberty Hill High School, and have already made a mark on Panther Athletics.
“I think (the players) are ready to get to that first scrimmage and start having more fun,” Bauer said. “The first part of the season is great because we get to work on a tremendous amount of ideas and tactics, but it begins to wear on them and they want to get to that first game.”
In the first season in program history, Liberty Hill rattled off an 18-5 regular season record, then won six straight to qualify for state. The Panthers lost that next game to San Elizario 4-2.
The Panthers followed the inaugural state run with its second straight undefeated district title (10-0) and finished the 2015-16 regular season 19-3 overall. The Panthers advanced to the second round that season before a 3-1 loss to Boerne, a team they had just beaten 6-0 three weeks prior.
“Last season had high expectations after our state run two years ago,” Bauer said. “We had a great season still. Undefeated in district play again was a great accomplishment, we just fell short in the playoffs.”
Liberty Hill lost five seniors from the 2015-16 team, including leading scorer Joseph Serio. However, the Panthers return five of their top six point getters from last year’s team.
Junior Izaac Zausch, senior Lucas Guene De Oliviera, senior Pedro Silva, senior Jackie Brewer, and junior Bryce Stratton recorded 46, 29, 25, 19, and 16 points last season, respectfully, and will lead the way this season offensively.
Junior goalkeeper Parker Seargent returns between the hardwood for Liberty Hill. Seargent posted 45 saves last season, saving 2.4 shots per game with an 80 percent save percentage.
Two impact players to watch for on the back line are the two center backs, senior Jack Brewer and junior Cooper Jenkins, according to Bauer.
“Those two have been put into a new role and asked to do things they are not use to,” Bauer said. “If they can pick up on their position and have an impact on the team then we will be very successful.”
To kick off the 2016-17 regular season, the Panthers will go on the road to Temple to compete in a tournament in which they will play Waco Midway, Corsicana and Midlothian Heritage in pool play.
After the tournament, Liberty Hill will travel once more to Boerne and take on the Greyhounds before hosting the first home game of the season the following week versus Salado.
Liberty Hill is 2-1 in program history against the Greyhounds and have not lost to Salado in four meetings with the Eagles.
District play includes playing Salado, Jarrell, Burnet and Leander Glenn all twice, then facing Lampasas and Little River Academy once a piece.
The team rounds out the season the way it started, going on the road yet again and kicking off against the Harker Heights Knights, who qualified for the 6A playoffs last season. The Panthers lost the only matchup between the two teams at home in 2014, 2-0.
“Being our third year of competition, this is now when you start to really build a tradition and consistencies,” Bauer said. “Can we continue to have a winning record? Can we continue to be a team that can push to state? I think we have a very strong group returning and some new faces that are going to help us improve over last year. If we can get everyone on the same page, state is not out of the question.”