Lady Panthers open district with back-to-back shutouts

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Liberty Hill senior Courtney Peterson (#16) prepares to send the ball downfield against Burnet on Feb. 9. The Lady Panthers are now an undefeated 2-0 in district play after wins over Burnet and Lampasas. (Shannon Hofmann Photo)

By LANCE CATCHINGS

The Liberty Hill girls’ soccer team opened district play Friday, Feb. 9, with a 5-0 win over rival Burnet. The Lady Panthers (15-2, 2-0) followed that win with a 15-0 whipping of Lampasas at home Tuesday night.

The Lady Panthers had the offensive fireworks going Tuesday night against Lampasas. The team scored a whopping eight goals in the first half of the contest and followed that with another seven in the second half to blow the doors off of Lampasas. Head Coach Darren Bauer said the flurry of offense started with playing possession soccer.

“We came out right away and were very patient moving the ball around,” Bauer said. “We found a gap and put away a goal early, and it opened up from there. I think Lampasas had the game plan to sit back and put enough bodies behind the ball to stop us, but once we got that first goal it fell apart. We got to move some girls around tonight and give some people scoring opportunities that normally don’t get them.”

With the win, Liberty Hill posted its 13th shutout of the season. Defense continues to be where the Lady Panthers hang their hat, and district play is no different.

“We have a good defense, but our best defense tonight was our possession,” Bauer said. “We made Lampasas run around and chase the ball when we had it. When they got the ball, all they wanted to do was kick it, so it was an easy win for us. Our possession was our defense tonight.”

Brooke Briscoe continued her offensive dominance and knocked in three goals on the night. Maddie Dube, Kyla Boliek and Haylie Cassady each scored twice for the Lady Panthers. Kaitlyn Schutze, Piper Tabor, Courtney Peterson, Bryden Bourgeios, Abigail Janicek and Madi Fuller each tipped in a goal in the win.

“Brooke was key for us tonight,” Bauer said. “She had a couple goals and assists within the first 15 minutes of the game, and that broke it open for us.”

Friday night against Burnet in the district opener, the Lady Panthers had another strong showing. Janicek got the scoring started with two goals in the first half of the contest. Liberty Hill took a 3-0 lead into halftime and put away two more in the second half to put the stamp on the win. Along with Janicek, Dube, Tabor and Fuller scored goals for the team. Briscoe and Boliek tallied assists in the district win, as well.

“It took us a bit to find our footing against Burnet,” Bauer said. “We stayed with it and kept moving the ball around and kept plugging away. We got the ball into the back of the net and it opened up for us. Once teams have to chase us, it becomes hard for our opponents. Burnet had two very good forwards, so I think our defense played really well.”

The Lady Panthers used the bye week preparations to springboard themselves into first place in the district, but they will face a tough opponent in Leander Glenn Friday night.

“We have to keep plugging away and keep getting better,” Bauer said. “We cannot worry about what our other opponents will do. We just have to focus on ourselves and keep working. Our practices leading up to these two matches were decent. We worked on some things we needed to fix and got some things sorted out. The girls got a little antsy because they were used to playing games closer together, but they handled it well.”

The Lady Panthers host Leander Glenn Friday night at Panther Stadium. Game time is set for 5:30 p.m. Liberty Hill will look to improve to 3-0 in district 26-4A with a win. The team will face Taylor next Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 5:30 p.m. in Taylor.

“Against Leander Glenn, we plan to stick to the same formula we have had success with so far,” Bauer said. “It’s been working for us, and right now there is no need to change it. We will go out and try to continue to make teams adjust to us.”

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