LHJH girls finish soccer’s inaugural season with undefeated record

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By Keith Sparks

The Liberty Hill Junior High soccer teams finished up their inaugural season this week, and the girls’ team finished with an undefeated record after beating Tippit on Tuesday night in their final game of the season.

Andrew Passwater, the junior high girls’ coach, said that although the girls came into this season with quite a bit of soccer experience from their select and recreational teams, their biggest improvement during their first season as a team was cohesion.

“Everybody kind of came in with some soccer experience, but not a lot together,” Passwater said. “As far as just kind of cohering together and getting together and working as a team, there’s been great improvement from the first game to the last.”

One of the main reasons LHISD started soccer teams at the junior high level was to give LHJH Panther soccer players the opportunity to play together and learn the Panther system as opposed to being forced to play for other teams without some of their Panther teammates.

Another reason, Passwater said, was to allow some of the junior high athletes that only play soccer to showcase their talents at LJHJ.

“Getting together now and getting used to each other before they go up to the high school is definitely great for them to see,” Passwater said. “It gets more kids involved. Some of the girls that I have might not play another sport but soccer. Some of them will run track and things like that, but if soccer is kind of their sport, it’s great that we have it now, because you have more opportunities for kids to show off their skills in different sports.”

Considering this is the program’s first year, it isn’t surprising that this season was a learning experience for Passwater, as well. Although he has previous experience as a player, he said the biggest adjustment he faced was “just kind of getting used to where the game is now and what’s changed.”

Now that he has a bit more experience as a soccer coach and has had the opportunity to implement a simplified version of the Panther varsity team’s system, Passwater plans on getting a little bit more technical with it next season.

“I’ll probably get a little bit more into the technical aspects of the game,” Passwater said. “Working a little bit more on positions and offensive, defensive schemes more than we did this year. Just kind of bringing it up another notch as far as technicalities within the game.”

They started their season off with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Benold, and it only got easier for them from there as they began to find their groove. Next, they rattled off a 7-2 win over Farley, a 4-0 win over Elgin, a 5-0 win over Forbes, a 6-0 win over Hutto, and a 13-3 win over Wagner before beating Tippit on Tuesday.

Although just about every player got in on the scoring action at one point or another during the season, Emma Stephens led the team with 17 total goals, including five against Wagner and four against Hutto. Kelsey Castillo made a big impact on that end, as well, scoring nine goals total on the season.

Both the boys’ and girls’ teams consist of seventh and eighth-graders combined in order to build teams large enough to compete, which Passwater said gives him a big advantage in being able to pull the best players from both grade levels.

“It’s been an advantage to me this year, because I get the best of everybody,” Passwater said. “I’ve got some amazing seventh-graders and I’ve got some amazing eighth-graders. When I put them together, we’ve got a pretty good team to be able to field, so that’s been great to see.”

The Panthers have proven that to be true, letting their undefeated record do the talking.

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