Boys’ soccer remains undefeated in district

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By Lance Catchings

The Liberty Hill boys’ soccer team (11-2-3, 6-0) closed out the first round of district play Tuesday night with a 3-0 win over Lampasas.

Jaron Frye scored two goals in the win and freshman Keegan Taggart added one. Head Coach Darren Bauer said his team knew Lampasas would be a tough match.

“We knew Lampasas would come out and give us everything,” Bauer said. “One of their main goals each year is to beat Liberty Hill. We know we have a target on our back and they would come out and fight. We just must keep playing our way. We must play hard, keep finding gaps and taking advantage of it when we do.”

Friday night, the Panthers downed rival Burnet on the road 8-1. Frye scored three goals in the win. Cade Campbell, Colton Walter, Mason Shipley, Jessie Anaya and Alfredo Chabarria each scored one goal. Anaya also had two assists while Frye, Zach Sotello and Chabarria each had one.

“We controlled Burnet the whole time and possessed well,” Bauer said. “We found gaps and holes really well and worked really well as a team. We were up 7-0 and got lazy in the back and gave away a ball, which let them score. Even though the game was in hand, we still don’t like to allow those situations. It was nice to see our guys pick up and that they don’t want to allow those goals, but we made some silly mistakes.”

Frye, a junior forward, is having another stellar year on the field, and Bauer said when he is on, he can be a headache for opponents.

“Jaron is fun to watch, and he is feeding off of his teammates a lot this year,” he said. “Last year, we relied on him a lot. We possessed the ball and would find Jaron all the time. This year, with other offensive threats around him, I think he is more comfortable. It is fun watching his individual talents and when he is clicking with everyone around him.”

Defensively, Uriel Diaz had two saves on the night against Burnet. Bauer said the defensive unit continues to improve each week.

“Both of our goalies are continuing to improve, and that’s what we want,” he said. “The goals we have allowed have not really been their fault. We’ve left them alone, and that comes back to our field players. Early in the year, they were both young and inexperienced, and they have gained in that area. Our players have gotten comfortable with them and gained confidence in them, as well.”

As the Panthers look forward to their last six games of the season, Bauer keeps reiterating to his team there is still room for improvement.

“Through the second round of district, we will just focus on being sharper,” he said. “We want to make sure we can solidify some things as we’ve come along, but there is always room for improvement. We know when playoffs come, it will be a challenge, because it’s one and done if you lose.”

Team leadership has been a high point in the program this year, and that comes from players taking pride in what they are doing, according to Bauer.

“The older guys have brought the younger guys along really well,” he said. “We have had some freshmen and sophomores come in and do a good job. Our upperclassmen have pulled them along and let them know this is how we do things. Playoffs for the younger guys will be completely new, but I think our upperclassmen are doing a good job of bringing them along.”

Bauer said of those younger players coming along so far, the surprise underclassman this season has been sophomore Rhett Hofmann.

“Rhett has been a defensive surprise for us this season,” he said. “We were looking for defenders and he stepped up and said ‘I’ll try it’. He was rough at first, but has come a long way. His freshman year, our big concern with him was his defending. He played center-mid last year, and he was good moving the ball and making some passes, but his defense was lacking. The fact that he has become a starting defender on varsity and is doing well has surprised a lot of people, but he has stepped into a big role as a sophomore for us.”

The Panthers travel to Jarrell Friday to open the second round of district play. They host Florence Tuesday.

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