Ladies fall to 0-5 with Salado loss
By Paul Livengood
In the near freezing temperatures and rain Tuesday night, the Lady Panthers varsity soccer team dropped their home opener to Salado 1-0.
The game was deadlocked at 0-0 through halftime, but Salado’s Grace Graham scored on a dart to the upper right-hand corner of the goal from nearly 35 yards away just minutes into the second half.
The Lady Panthers had a few opportunities to tie the game. The most promising look was a 40-yard blast from #9 senior Gaby Garcia that barely cleared the crossbar.
Liberty Hill was unable to convert in the final minutes, despite having a free kick right in front of the goal from about 33 yards away.
This past weekend, the Lady Panthers soccer team went on the road to compete in the Mav Raider Invitational in Cedar Ridge.
The Lady Panthers lost all three games. Anderson defeated Liberty Hill 6-0, San Angelo Central won 2-0, and Highland Park gave the Panthers their third loss of the tournament on the final day, 1-0.
Liberty Hill currently holds an 0-5 record, but Head Coach Darren Bauer urges Panther fans not to go into panic mode, explaining that Liberty Hill was the only 4A school to compete in the Mav Raider Invitational. Anderson and San Angelo Central are both undefeated 6A teams, and Highland Park is an undefeated 5A squad. Boerne, who the Lady Panthers lost to in their first game of the season, is a 2-1 6A team.
The Lady Panthers are playing some tough competition in their non-district schedule. Bauer is attempting to battle test the Lady Panthers, so that when district rolls around, the team won’t play against anyone tougher than the teams they have already faced.
“We knew going into this tournament that it was going to be tough,” Bauer said. “We were the only 4A team in the tournament and playing some very good 6A teams. We were not too concerned about the outcomes of these games as we were preparing ourselves for district play. If we can learn to play a faster, more physical game with the bigger schools, then it should set us up nicely for our 4A opponents. The good 4A schools can compete with most 6A and 5A teams.”
Bauer said the team came out in a slump against Anderson, but rebounded nicely against San Angelo Central and Highland Park.
There were some tactical issues that needed fixing, and Bauer believes he and his team addressed those issues throughout the tournament. The primary issues were that the Lady Panthers were unable to maintain possession and spread the ball out to the wider positions on the field. However, the girls improved as tournament play progressed.
Bauer would like to see his team create more opportunities on goal, but understands that it’s still early on in the season, and he has plenty of time to find ways to put girls in good spots to find the back of the net.
“I would much rather have that record preparing ourselves against tougher opponents than to be undefeated against weaker opposition and not improving upon anything,” Bauer said. “I think the girls have seen that they are able to get out there and compete against those tougher schools now, and hopefully that confidence will continue to build throughout the season.”
The JV Lady Panthers defeated the Salado Eagles 8-1 Monday evening.
Nya Casebolt scored a hat trick against the Eagles. Allison Mayeux and Kendal James both had 2, and Ava Enstrom added one more.
The JV girls won against Taylor last Friday in a much tighter matchup, 1-0.
“They were relentless in the attack and it eventually paid off,” Bauer said. “They had a couple of goals called back because of offsides, but they are starting to work together and build upon that foundation we need them to have to step up to the next level on varsity.”
Casebolt scored the only goal for the Panthers on Friday.
The JV squad holds a 3-1 record so far this season.