Ladies avenge loss to Burnet
By Paul Livengood
Liberty Hill was set to play Salado Tuesday night, but the matchup was delayed to Wednesday due to the fields being in unplayable conditions.
On Jan. 31, in the first-ever meeting between Burnet and Liberty Hill on the soccer pitch, the Lady Bulldogs slighted the Lady Panthers 1-0 at Burnet High School.
Fast forward 11 days, and the two programs squared off again last Friday, Feb. 10. Liberty Hill was out to avenge the bitter loss to its rival, accomplishing that and then some with a 4-1 victory.
The opening minutes of the game seemed to point to another Burnet victory. Five minutes into the match, Burnet was set to take a free kick from just inside the 18-yard box. The Lady Bulldogs put a shot on goal, Mackenzy Turner made a spectacular save, but the ball bounced back into traffic in the box. The Lady Panthers tried to clear the ball out of the six-yard goalie box, shanked the ball, and committed an own goal.
The first goal was a product of one mistake after another. The reason Burnet had a free kick from 16 yards away to begin with was due to Turner fielding a ball played back to her with her hands. It is illegal for a goalie to pick up the ball when it is played back to them to maintain possession.
The same call was made a second time, this time against the Bulldogs, just five minutes later. Sophomore Kyla Boliek took the free kick and fired a shot on goal, but was saved and cleared. Burnet still led 1-0, but not for long.
Gaby Garcia, senior midfielder, started on a diagonal run through the middle of the Lady Bulldog backline well over 40 yards away from the goal. Fellow senior Alex Svetlik found Garcia’s run and played a lengthy through ball behind the defense. Garcia collected the pass and fired a 20-yard left footed shot to tie the game 1-1 in the 15th minute.
Svetlik made a living off the through ball against the Bulldogs, as she found another teammate, Emma Hofmann, making a similar run to Garcia’s. Hofmann dropped the ball off to Boliek, and the sophomore fired a shot across the goalie’s face from right to left, finishing a goal on the far left post.
Burnet went from being up 1-0 to losing 2-1 in a matter of 10 minutes, and the momentum had shifted completely to the Lady Panthers.
The game slowed down a bit, but Hofmann would add to the Panther lead before the halftime recess.
Courtney Peterson, junior right back, dribbled the ball down the right side of the Liberty Hill attack and played a cross into the 18-yard box to generate another scoring opportunity. Peterson found the foot of Hofmann, who shot a first touch into the back of the net.
Liberty Hill rode the 3-1 lead into halftime with all the momentum, but the tides were close to turning early in the second half.
Five minutes into the second half, Liberty Hill committed a foul on a Lady Bulldog run inside the box. Burnet was set to take a penalty kick and potentially narrow the Lady Panthers’ lead to one.
Burnet’s penalty kick hit the crossbar and deflected back into play, which was then followed by a first-touch half volley from point-blank distance. Turner made arguably the save of the game and knocked the ball out of bounds for a Burnet corner. The corner kick was booted out of bounds and all danger had been averted.
Maddie Dube, sophomore forward, delivered the dagger with five minutes to go in regulation. Svetlik found Dube on a long pass over the top of the Burnet defense, and the sophomore’s shot hit the goalie right in the hands. The shot had a little too much heat on it and trickled past the white line for a goal.
The win is Liberty Hill’s third in a row and improves the team’s record to 6-7 overall and 4-1 in district. Next up, the Lady Panthers will kickoff against the Lampasas Lady Badgers in Panther Stadium on Friday, Feb. 17, at 7:30 p.m.