By LANCE CATCHINGS
The Liberty Hill varsity girls’ soccer team bounced back from their second loss of the season with back-to-back wins over Wimberley and Canyon Lake. The Lady Panthers (12-2) defeated Canyon Lake 4-1 Tuesday night, and last Friday night at Panther Stadium, the girls took down Wimberley in a 1-0 victory.
Against Canyon Lake, the girls jumped out to a 3-1 lead at halftime and had the game well in hand. The Lady Panthers added another goal in the second half to seal their 12th win of the season. Head Coach Darren Bauer said before the game that if the team could play their way, the outcome would be what they wanted.
“I told the girls I am not really concerned about the outcomes right now,” Bauer said. “It’s nice to win, but our goal is to come out and play our style of soccer every single game. If we do that against Canyon Lake, we can take care of them early and relax and have a little fun. Our goal from here on out is to come out with the sharpness, pressure, and attitude of working together.”
Freshman Piper Tabor scored the winning goal for the Lady Panthers against Wimberley Friday night in the second half of the game. The team was happy to get back to their winning ways.
“After the loss to Lorena, our big focus was just getting our mentality back and the way we like to play,” Bauer said. “We wanted to improve our pressure and get back to working together. I thought we did that well against Wimberley. We came out and pressed them a lot. We played one of our better games this year against them, but the scary thing is I don’t think it’s been our best. There are still things we need to work on and improve, but after the Lorena loss, it was a great way for us to bounce back and improve. Hopefully, the girls see we have to work to earn what we want.”
Defense and pressure are two things the Lady Panthers pride themselves on, and Bauer said the team challenged themselves in practice. That pressure is what led to Tabor hitting the game winning shot.
“We worked this week on getting wider in our formations and stretching the defense more,” Bauer said. “That, along with the pressure we applied as a team to their defense, caused them to play tense in the back. Piper was wide, got a look and lofted one over the goalkeeper. It was great to see, because that’s the stuff we had worked on all week.”
At the start of the season, the team had a lot of holes to fill and lots of incoming freshmen. Many of those freshmen have become valuable contributors to the team’s 12-2 season record.
“The girls have done well picking up our style and getting used to how we want to play,” Bauer said. “Right now, we have two freshmen starting on the defensive line, and they are learning from Kyla (Boliek) and Haylie (Cassady) about how they have to work and pressure together. It is a tenacity thing, and they are understanding that if they work hard and do their part, it will be really tough to beat us. Having those 11 shutouts is something I try to get the team to take pride in, and they are.”
Bauer also gave credit to Wimberley for being a tough opponent, but the Lady Panthers refused to be denied, thanks in large part to some changes they made during the week.
“Our spacing and pressure was the biggest changes we made this week,” he said. “Wimberley was a very good defensively organized team, and we made them work a lot harder. You could tell by the end of the game they were getting tired. We pressured and won most of the 50/50 balls against Wimberley.”
Liberty Hill hosts Salado Friday night and will get a bye week before opening district play against rival Burnet on Feb. 9.
“I think we are close to what we need to be for district play,” Bauer said. “There are still things we need to improve on, but the girls have learned and see what works and what doesn’t. Hopefully things keep coming together for us.”