LH girls soccer blast Taylor, 8-1

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By BOB VARMETTE

GEORGETOWN – Tayler Walter scored five goals for the Liberty Hill Lady Panthers Thursday night – the first time the senior has ever accomplished the feat, not counting a match against a junior varsity squad.

It turned out only two of those goals were actually needed. The other three just made the first step into the playoffs for Walter and the Lady Panthers that much more fun.

In the first playoff match in the history of the program, Liberty Hill pummeled an overmatched Taylor side to earn an 8-1 bi-district victory at Birkelbach Field.

“I think, definitely, it’s a big deal,” Walter said. “It’s been an awesome season. I am super, super, super blessed to get to be on this team – the first Liberty Hill team, and being a senior I almost missed it. I think we’re starting traditions that are going to last forever.”

Might as well start it off with a rout.

The contest was never in doubt. Liberty Hill (14-5-2) did what it wanted to, when it wanted to, where it wanted to, pretty much the entire match.

The Lady Panthers outshot the Lady Ducks an incredible 48-6 – 28-2 in the first half alone. Liberty Hill clearly fielded a side that showed itself not just technically more sound, but was a squad that was also quicker and more physical.

“We knew that Taylor hadn’t had the best record against some of the schools that we had played,” Liberty Hill coach Kelsy Quinn said. “But you never know how someone improves, so we came out here expecting to play a team of equal ability. The girls knew they had to come out and play like that and I’m glad that they did.”

Walter’s five-goal performance overshadowed a two-goal second half from Liberty Hill sophomore Payton Swieczkowski. She tallied two of the Lady Panthers’ final three goals, sandwiching Walter’s fifth goal.

Walter took advantage of Liberty Hill’s domination of the pitch in the first 40 minutes. She scored three of the Lady Panthers’ first four goals, and Walter also assisted on Brianna Stark’s first-half goal.

“Taylor is always one of our key players in the midfield – distribution-wise and scoring goals,” Quinn said. “Today she was definitely on target. … Having her really step up and having Payton getting a couple goals, we really had people getting their shots on target, which in some games has been something that we’ve lacked.”

Not Thursdsay night. Tayler against Taylor.

Walter connected for the first time in the sixth minute. She tallied the match winner six minutes later from in close to give Liberty Hill a 2-0 advantage.

Walter recorded her hat trick with 4:47 in the first half, taking a pass from Skylar Larkin to give the Lady Panthers a 4-0 lead at intermission. In the second half, she scored on a header off a corner kick by Alex Svetlik in the 43rd minute and added her final goal four minutes later.

“I’m usually in the right place in the right time,” Walter said. “I do push up a lot – maybe more than I should sometimes. But I do make a lot of opportunities and a lot of them were really good crosses from my teammates, like the corner kick. Others were just really good combinations with my teammates and I was the last one with the ball, so I scored.”

There was one flaw on the way to perfection, though. A defensive miscue by the Lady Panthers allowed the Lady Ducks’ Yetta Arroyo to score in the 62nd minute, smacking her own rebound past Liberty Hill keeper Brooke Landry, who played the second half after Mackenzy Turner minded the net during the first 40 minutes.

It came with Walter playing in the defensive backfield, and several other players at positions they usually don’t play. The shuffling gave the Lady Panthers a chance to get some younger players match experience – important, Quinn said, since Liberty Hill will graduation five starters.

“The reason they got one goal is because we didn’t stay focused,” Quinn said. “Even though we had people playing out of their normal positions, it shouldn’t make a difference because everybody on our team has the ability to play any position.”

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