Liberty Hill ices Wimberley, takes on Melissa in State Semifinal

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By Lance Catchings

MCALLEN – The Liberty Hill girls soccer team followed up their 12-1 thumping of Beeville in the regional semifinal with a 2-0 shutout over Wimberley in the regional final Saturday morning.
The final was a much-anticipated matchup between the two teams who played to a 0-0 stalemate earlier this season. Saturday however Liberty Hill left no doubt as Wimberley was unable to capitalize on anything offensively.
The pair of wins propelled Liberty Hill to the UIL State Tournament where they will play Melissa at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday in Georgetown.
“I thought our girls executed well Saturday,” said head coach Darren Bauer. “They played simple, smart and we created a lot of chances and caused Wimberley some problems. Wimberley was forced to sit back a lot more and we possessed well. They had already planned to sit back like when we played them before and Saturday, we caused them to sit back even more. We took multiple shots that troubled their keeper and the game plan worked the way we wanted to.”
Liberty Hill took a 1-0 lead with 13:24 left in the first half when freshman Emma Stephens punched in a goal. The game remained scoreless through the rest of the first half, but Liberty Hill was in the driver’s seat.
“We had trouble finishing the first time we played Wimberley,” he added. “After Emma (Stephens) scored that first goal it took a lot of pressure off the girls and I think we played more relaxed after that.”
Liberty Hill stayed with their game plan in the second half and it continued to work in their favor. The girls scored again at the 28:34 mark in the second half after a free kick by Kylee Bush was mishandled by the Wimberley keeper Brooke Briscoe punched in the goal for a 2-0 lead. Bauer believes his team’s experience and familiarity from last season helped the team be successful.
“I thought we played well after we got the second goal,” he said. “After that we continued to stay with the game plan, which was passing, playing possession soccer and being patient. We made Wimberley run around and you could tell it started to tire them out.”
Bauer believes his team’s experience and familiarity from last season helped the team be successful.
“It is not just the experience we took in from last year but the preparation and things we do with the trainers and Mrs. Harrington beforehand all play a part,” he said. “I feel like we were more well prepared than the other teams and when you add on the experience on top of that from last year it helps you. I think it all worked out to our advantage. I think our older girls have been incredible and brought along our younger girls and gotten them ready. They made sure our younger girls knew what they were about to get into.”

Liberty Hill vs. Melissa in state semifinal
Liberty Hill is right back where they wanted to be after losing in the state semifinal last season. This year they will take on Melissa in the class 4A state semifinal at 1:30 p.m. in Georgetown at the Georgetown ISD Athletic Complex.
Melissa is a fast, talented team that comes from just outside of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. They knocked off Paris and Spring Hill to earn their way to the state tournament. Bauer said Liberty Hill will focus more on their game rather than their opponent.
“For us it is about going out there and enforcing our will and power on the other team,” he said.
“If we need to adjust, then we will, and I think that is one of the things we are prepared in. That is something we worked on during the season by changing things on our team so we could be prepared to play different ways if needed. We have some film and scouting reports on them. They will be physical and athletic. They have some girls that are fast, and they are a good team and it could be anybody’s game. It will come down to who is going to play and want to take it all. I think the way we normally play will set up well against Melissa. If we need to switch something, then we can. That will come down to a game situation and if we see something we need to get cleaned up.”
Last season the state semifinal game was extremely physical for Liberty Hill and that is something they will go in prepared for.
“Last year the game we played in the semifinal was physical and it could be the same way this time around,” he said. “At that level each team is going to give everything they have and that can lead to more physicality than normal. I think our girls will be ready for it and can dish it out as much as they can take it. I think we will be ready.”
This will be the second state tournament appearance for the Liberty Hill girls’ soccer program in as many years.
“It is a testament to all our hard work, and I think it is almost a bigger accomplishment to do it the second year,” he said.
“We have had a big target on our back all year because everyone wants to beat us. The girls came out and showed how much they wanted it. The regional tournament it was fun to see how much we dominated and to see where we were compared to last year. I think we are ahead of where we were at this point last year. I think we have not seen our best potential yet. Our actual play against Wimberley was good but I think the intensity of the play could be greater than what it was. I still think we have a couple notches and a couple gears left in us. We made a name for ourselves last year and I think it just builds on the tradition that we have.”
If Liberty Hill can defeat Melissa, they will play in the 4A state championship Thursday at 2:30 p.m. against the winner of the Stephenville vs. Lumberton state semifinal game.

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