By Lance Catchings
The Lady Panther soccer team defeated Ellison by a final score of 6-0 on Monday. The win gives Liberty Hill a 9-1 record on the season as they continue a great start to the 2017-2018 campaign.
Liberty Hill took a 5-0 lead in the first half to put Ellison away early. Head Coach Darren Bauer said the team took control from the very beginning.
“We got off to a good start against Ellison,” Bauer said. “We put a few away early and controlled the game with the midfield. We got a chance to get some younger players in, and they got some good experience. We are playing simple-style soccer, possessing the ball, and it was fun to see tonight.”
The Lady Panthers competed at the Temple Tournament from Jan. 11-13. Liberty Hill placed second in the tournament, losing in the championship game to Del Valle after shutting out their previous four opponents.
“Overall, we played well,” Bauer said. “We played our type of soccer by controlling the game and controlling the tempo. Through the first four games, we hardly gave up any chances on goal. In the championship game against Del Valle, we controlled the game, but we didn’t finish our chances. They had one chance on goal, and they put it away. We tied it later and ended up losing on penalty kicks. Overall, we played how we wanted to.”
The Lady Panthers won their first game of the tournament against Killeen by a final score of 6-0, as Maddie Dube, Kaitlyn Schutze, Piper Tabor, Brooke Briscoe and Abigail Janicek each scored goals in the win.
“Winning 6-0 against Killeen was a good way to start the tournament,” Bauer said. “We didn’t quite know what to expect from them, being a 6A school. We scored five goals in the first half. That allowed us to get some other players in the second half.”
Liberty Hill won their second game of the tournament against Goose Creek by a final score of 7-0 after holding a 6-0 lead at halftime. Dube, Tabor and Madi Fuller each scored two goals in the win. Schutze added a goal, as well.
“Goose Creek was one of the better teams we have seen,” Bauer said. “They had some really good offensive girls, but our defensive structure kind of shut them down. Our midfield really took control of the game, which helped us a lot.”
Next, the Panthers faced the host, Temple, whom they beat 5-0. Briscoe led the team with two goals, and Fuller, Tabor and Dube each had a goal in the win, as well.
“Temple was a very well-organized team with some very talented players,” Bauer said. “Our defense had solid structure and we put some early goals away, which let us control the game by halftime.”
In their second-to-last game of the tournament, Liberty Hill put up their best offensive performance with a 9-0 win over Leander Glenn. Dube led the team with two goals and two assists. Kyla Boliek, Schutze, Tabor, Briscoe, Courtney Peterson, Athena Brown and Janicek also got in on the scoring action for the Lady Panthers.
“Leander Glenn has improved since last year,” Bauer said. “They have some solid players and some solid structure. Our defense controlled the game and, once again, our midfield was huge for us.”
After holding a 1-1 tie through regulation, Liberty Hill lost to Del Valle in the championship game by way of penalty kicks. It was their first loss of the season.
“Del Valle was definitely the best team we’ve seen so far,” Bauer said. “The difference in that game was that we did not finish. We had little things that weren’t clicking as well as normal. We got a handball in the box on a corner kick, so they got a penalty kick out of it. I told the girls afterward, “If that is the only way we got scored on is penalty kicks, then we will be fine.’”
Briscoe and Janicek were named to the All-Tournament Team for their efforts. Bauer said the team is starting to gel together nicely and, although there is a lot of work that needs to be done, he is proud of the way they have competed thus far.
“So far, our freshman are progressing well,” Bauer said. “Of course, they still make mistakes, but they are learning and building from it. They have learned a lot, but they still have a long way to go. Seeing the girls play solid defense is great for me. It’s not hard to get players to buy in to scoring goals. It can be hard to get players to buy in to stopping goals, especially when you put in subs and they are upholding that pride, as well. To see them work that hard makes me proud. The girls are working together and pushing each other, and they are making each other better.”
The Lady Panthers’ next game will take place at home at 6 p.m. on Friday.