Girls off to regional soccer tournament after 2-1 victory
By Lance Catchings
The Liberty girls’ soccer team (21-2-2) came out on the right side of a 2-1 victory over Boerne (19-3-2) Friday at the Toney Burger Center in Austin in the regional quarterfinal round of the playoffs.
Liberty Hill and Boerne have a well-documented rivalry, as Liberty Hill knocked Boerne out of the regional tournament last season by the same 2-1 score.
Both teams have successful soccer programs that carry a lot of tradition, but Liberty Hill once again came out on top.
Sophomore Madi Fuller put her team ahead with a 15-yard shot on a fast break that gave Liberty Hill a 1-0 lead just 2:43 into the game.
Brooke Briscoe then followed with another goal with 22:53 left in the first half and Liberty Hill looked firmly in control, but Boerne refused to go away. The Lady Greyhounds scored their first goal with 9:08 left in the first half, and both teams knew the second half would be a battle.
In the second half, Boerne increased the offensive pressure and Liberty Hill had to rely on its defense to get them through attack after attack from Boerne. The Liberty Hill defense overcame four corner kicks, a free kick and several fast breaks by the Boerne offense in the second half to secure the victory.
Head Coach Darren Bauer said his team knew they would face a strong challenge from a quality opponent, but his defense came in prepared.
“The first half, we did exactly what we wanted to,” Bauer said. “We came out and imposed our will a little bit and got two quick goals. Giving credit to Boerne, they never gave up and fought the whole way through. In the second half, they gave us everything they had, and I don’t know if we could have handled much more, to be honest. It’s a testament to how much our girls wanted it and how hard they knew they would have to work. Hopefully, they learn from this and it carries over to the next game. If we keep playing like this and continue to get better, then it is nonstop from here.”
Liberty Hill finally got to play a game with its full roster intact after having many players out with injury over the season, and Bauer said they needed everyone’s contributions to get the victory.
“We finally had a full team, and we needed all of them against Boerne,” he said. “Not everyone is at 100 percent yet, but it is great, because we are still in good shape. It helped some of our younger players get some experience early in the season, and now we have more of our experienced players back on the field.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Samantha Carter had four saves in the win and was huge for her team in one-on-one situations in the second half.
“We have been talking to Samantha about getting more aggressive,” Bauer said. “She has not been challenged that much this year, so it can be hard to see, but she showed tonight why teams need to fear her. She came up with some big saves and added some pressure on the breakaways that Boerne got. She got some good blocks on the cross, and we will need her back there playing the same way to get where we want.”
Senior defender Kyla Boliek said she could not be prouder of her team or the defensive unit for how they played in the second half. She believes the win over Boerne will add to their confidence headed into the regional tournament.
“The second half was stressful, but exciting at the same time, to be up but still fighting for that game,” Boliek said. “You are not out of the game just because you’re ahead, and you must work your butt off to keep them from scoring. Through heart and will, that’s how we were successful. We gave it our all and wanted it so bad we were willing to do whatever it took to get the win. We needed our whole team defending to win tonight, and that is what we got. As we prepare for the tournament, we just want to stay focused and remember to play our game of soccer. We want to get that state title.”
Liberty Hill will travel to McAllen Friday for the regional soccer tournament played at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium. Bauer said the team will rest, recover and focus on cleaning up a few minor things before tournament play begins.
“The first part of next week will just be about recovery and getting our legs back underneath us,” he said. “After that, we need to play better under pressure. Against Boerne we took the pressure, but we have to be able to play under that pressure at the regional tournament.”
Liberty Hill will open tournament play Friday at 10 a.m. against Beeville Jones in the regional semifinals. Should they win, they will face the winner of the Wimberley vs. Pleasanton game Saturday at 10 a.m. for a berth to the State Tournament in Georgetown.