Girls’ soccer trounces Burnet on Senior Night

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By Lance Catchings

The Liberty Hill girls’ soccer team, now 17-2-2 (10-1), lost an overtime decision to Salado 17-5-1 (10-1) Friday on the road for their first district loss of the season, but followed it up with a 6-0 win over Burnet Tuesday night.

On Tuesday, the Liberty Hill seniors took to their home field for the last time on Senior Night. Head Coach Darren Bauer said although his team made the win seem routine, he would like them to be sharper.

“Against Burnet, I still felt we were a little sluggish,” he said. “We have a lot of people that are still out, so we have some people moved around. We don’t really have a forward right now, and against Burnet, we threw a new formation at them that we haven’t had time to practice before. At times it was sluggish, but we picked it up in the second half.”

Senior Brooke Briscoe was on fire as she led the team with four goals in the win. Sophomore Abigail Janicek also scored two goals. Briscoe said her big night came from having more room to work in the middle of the field.

“We changed formations to two in the middle tonight, and I think that helped when teams packed it in the middle,” Briscoe said. “We all finished really well tonight. We need to show up for the game and be ready to go from the start. We can’t wait 10 minutes into the game, then think we can wake up and start playing.”

Kendal James, Haylie Cassady, Nya Casebolt, Maddie Dube, Briscoe and Kyla Boliek were the six seniors that waved goodbye to Panther Stadium on Senior Night.

“This senior group means a lot to me,” Bauer said. “This is the first senior group I have been with for four years. Brooke came in last year, but other than that, I have been with all of them for four years since I took over. Kyla and Haylie have played a big role in shaping the girls’ program into what it is now. Kyla knows that and has put in so much heart and dedication and has got to see it pay off. They have been a huge part of this program for us, and they have set a huge foundation for us to have success from here on out.”

Boliek, a senior and four-year starter, said the program has helped shape her as a person.

“It was sentimental for me playing our last game at the home field,” she said. “At the same time, it is not too sentimental, because we know we have more games to play. When it comes to skill, I have grown since I have become a part of this program. I have played different positions, learned different formations and how to play within them. I feel I have grown as a leader, as well.”

Last Friday, both Liberty Hill and Salado fought hard to a 0-0 tie at the end of regulation. Salado then took a 1-0 lead in the overtime period before Boliek scored on an assist from teammate Bryden Bourgeois. This tied the game in the overtime period 1-1, and both teams went to a shootout to decide winner. Salado outscored Liberty Hill 3-1 in the shootout period to earn the win.

“Salado’s field plays to their game, and it does not really play to ours,” Bauer said. “There were some things that happened that led to a recipe for them to upset us. We did not give up many chances, but they got a few breaks here and there. Our movement wasn’t sharp, and our passing was not sharp. I was proud of the girls in overtime. We went down 1-0, and for them to fight back and get a goal to tie it will come back and pay off in the end.”

Despite the loss, Bauer is using the game as a teaching moment as his team prepares to enter the playoffs. Liberty Hill had multiple starters out in the game due to injuries.

“We have some confidence now, if we go into overtime in the playoffs, that we can do that if it comes down to it,” Bauer said. “After the game, I told the girls it was a learning experience. From there on out, we learn. It also may have been a little bit of a wakeup call. Now we know nothing is going to get handed to us. You never want to lose, but it’s not always a bad thing to have a wakeup call. I would have liked us to play sharper, but the girls know the mistakes they made. We know how to correct them, and when playoff time comes, we will be ready.”

Liberty Hill beat Salado earlier this season 2-0. Since the loss last Friday was in overtime, due to the soccer point scale, it goes on the books as a tie, meaning each team is awarded one point. Salado picked up another point for the overtime win, so despite losing the game in overtime, Liberty Hill remains in first place due to their previous win over Salado.

Liberty Hill is off Friday and will travel to Lampasas the following Tuesday to close out district play. If the Panthers can win against Lampasas, the outright district championship will be theirs.

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