LH girls rout Gateway, 11-0
By BOB VARMETTE
It’s rare in a soccer match for a player to record a hat trick. Liberty Hill’s Alex Svetlik did that.
It’s even rarer to see a player score four goals. Liberty Hill’s Payton Swieczkowski did that.
The two Lady Panthers sophomores combined for seven goals Friday night to lead Liberty Hill to an 11-0 rout of undermanned and overwhelmed Georgetown Gateway Prep in District 25-4A girls soccer at Panther Stadium.
“They’re a smaller school playing up so it’s always going to be a little tougher for them,” Liberty Hill assistant coach Wayne Munger said. “We didn’t want to relax. We didn’t want to relax mainly because these (matches) are extremely important and … we were going to play the way we played against Salado and that’s full press, making sure everyone is performing their responsibilities and being able to put the ball away when needed.”
Munger hesitated slightly when asked about that undefinable term, “perfect match,” but if the Lady Panthers (14-4-2, 6-1 District 25-4A) didn’t play perfectly they came awfully close.
The Lady Panthers outshot the Lady Gators 29-3. With Liberty Hill pressing aggressively, almost the entire match was played in Gateway’s end of the pitch, with the Lady Panthers easily dominating possession.
The Lady Gators went the entire match with just 10 players. With a numerical advantage in addition to advantages is speed and technical skill, the Lady Panthers – particularly Swieczkowski and Svetlik – put on a show.
Swieczkowski scored the first three goals for Liberty Hill, tallying in the ninth minute to put the Lady Panthers up 1-0 on a 10-yard shot that came after a headman pass and a successful journey through the Lady Gators defense. She added her second six minutes later, her third a minute after that, and she tallied for the final time in the 46th minute to give Liberty Hill a 7-0 advantage.
“I have not, ever. I have never done that before,” Swieczkowski said. “I just ran. I just ran fast and I got lucky. I know the running is not luck, but the rest of it is I get really lucky.
“We all work together. I don’t do it by myself.”
Svetlik picked up where Swieczkowski left off. She scored all three of her goals in the second half.
She gave the Lady Panthers an 8-0 lead in the 57th minute with a right-footed shot from about 25 yards out and about 10 minutes later used her left foot from about 20 yards out to put Liberty Hill up 9-0. Svetlik’s third tally came with 10:05 in the match and produced the final 11-0 result.
“It’s really exciting because it’s a big deal in the soccer world,” Svetlik said. “I think it’s just being in the right place at the right time and knowing when to shoot and when to pass.”
Svetlik’s hat trick was her first – not just in varsity soccer, but her first for a career going back to youth soccer.
Swieczkowski’s four goals were also unprecedented. She said she had never scored a hat trick, much less four goals, at any level of soccer until Friday night.
“She’s starting to be really calm on the ball,” Munger said. “As we get better, as our team gets chemistry. We’re starting to figure out how people play. With her speed, we can rely on that and she’s becoming calm on the ball, just tap it home instead of panicking.”
The offensive outburst comes at the right time for the Lady Panthers, Munger said. It’s a product of a season of practice and play, and he believes that’s a good sign as the team nears the end of district play and closes in on the postseason.
After winning their last two matches on penalty kicks, the rout was a welcome one.
“I think it helps us – it boosts our confidence for Friday because we have to play Salado, our biggest competition,” Svetlik said. “We need to keep that mindset and go into Friday like this.”