Lady Panthers challenge, but fall to East View
By BOB VARMETTE
So, here’s what we know about the Liberty Hill girls soccer team after its second scrimmage of the pre-season, which took place late Friday afternoon at a raw and drizzly Panther Stadium: the Lady Panthers are competitive, even against a bigger, more established program, proving that in a 1-0 loss to Class 5A Georgetown East View.
Liberty Hill coach Kelsy Quinn saw some good things from her side, which is in its maiden season of UIL-sanctioned play.
Perhaps most prominent was the goalkeeper play of junior Brooke Landry, who played the first half, and freshman McKenzie Turner, who played the second half.
“They did very, very well – I was very proud of them,” she said. “Brooke, this is only her second year ever playing goalie and McKenzie hasn’t really been a full-time goalie and is just a freshman. Both of them have surpassed our expectations in each game and each practice. They’re just getting better and better, and more aggressive at wanting to come out for the ball.”
The play of the Lady Panthers’ goalkeepers was critical in keeping the Lady Patriots to only one goal, Quinn said. And it’s more than just their ability to stop shots – Liberty Hill defenders are playing with more confidence because the defense believes the goalkeepers will do their jobs.
That means, Quinn said, defenders are not altering their play because of poor goalkeeper play. That type of relationship between a goalkeeper and her defenders is something the Lady Panthers lacked last season.
“Our goalies have never really played before,” Liberty Hill senior defender Skylar Larkin said. “But in practice, all of them have made a lot of improvement. I really trust them back there.”
The Lady Panthers did some good things on defense, too. Limiting the Lady Patriots’ scoring chances and holding them to just one goal was important in keeping the Lady Panthers motivated, despite a big disparity in possession time between the two teams.
East View kept Liberty Hill on defense on its own half of the field for much of the match. That was largely due, Quinn said, to the Lady Patriots’ decided advantage in numbers and playing experience.
Coupled with East View’s faster speed of play, those advantages manifested themselves on the field as dominance in attack position, ball control and scoring chances. That was not entirely unexpected, Quinn said.
There was another reason, too.
“Well, we are trying a new formation on defense, and it being a scrimmage we’re just trying to work through how we want to do our game,” Quinn said.
East View’s dominance of possession time and its corresponding ability to keep Liberty Hill playing defense on its side of the field produced the only goal of the match, which came roughly midway through the second half.
Now, Quinn said, the Lady Panthers just have to work on generating offense — like they did in their first scrimmage, a 5-2 Liberty Hill victory at Wimberley Dec. 30, 2014.
Despite East View’s advantage in depth, experience and overall speed, during the last 10-15 minutes of the match the Lady Panthers were able to flip the pitch and see some playing time on the Lady Patriots’ half.
Overall, Quinn said the Lady Panthers had five scoring chances. In the second half, none of those scoring chances produced a shot on goal, but Liberty Hill almost succeeded in putting a shot on net in the latter minutes.
“To not score out of five isn’t that bad statistically for soccer,” Quinn said. “I don’t think that we did necessarily anything wrong. It was just we couldn’t finish it.”
That little second-half surge, Quinn said, happened because the Lady Panthers out-hustled the Lady Patriots, and that was the result of being in better physical shape.
But the Lady Panthers couldn’t take advantage of their fitness advantage. The team has the right idea, Quinn said, but Liberty Hill’s lack of experience shows.
“Mentally, they know what they should be doing, but our skill level isn’t quite to where they can implement what they need to do,” Quinn said. “They know they need to know where they need to go with the ball before they receive it, but sometimes their feet aren’t letting them do it, because we haven’t quite ingrained enough working on first touch and passing the ball quickly. Those are some of the things that we have been working on, but we’ve only had a month.”