By LANCE CATCHINGS
On Tuesday, the Panthers fell to Temple by a final score of 3-1 in their second scrimmage of the season. Jordan Schwingendorf was able to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead heading into halftime, but Liberty Hill could not hold on to it, struggling defensively in the second half as they gave up three goals.
Head Coach Darren Bauer chalked the loss up to some simple mistakes while also explaining that a number of his impact players were absent for various reasons.
“We had a few people out and some others gone, so it was interesting for us today,” Bauer said. “We went up 1-0 in the first half and led with that score at halftime. We struggled in the beginning to keep possessions out of the middle. We had some simple mistakes, but all of that stuff can be cleaned up as we get into the season. Overall, in the first half, we created more chances than they did. In the second half, we made some young mistakes by giving the ball away on the back end. They put a couple away on us, and that was the game. We kept fighting in the second half and created a few chances for ourselves, but they got more done than we did in the end.”
Bauer was impressed with the efforts of his players, as some were forced to play in new positions for the first time.
“We pulled a couple kids from the midfield,” Bauer said. “We threw them to the fire in the back to help solidify our defense, and we made a couple mistakes. That’s what the scrimmages are for. They will learn from it and make the adjustments moving forward. After the game, I told them we made our own trouble. We have some things we have to clean up, but overall, the core is there. If we can take from this game and fix the next one, we’ll be fine. The passing and the touches are usually easy to fix.”
On Dec. 29, the Liberty Hill boys opened the 2017-2018 season with a 2-1 victory in a scrimmage against Giddings. Bauer said he was pleased with the win, particularly how his team fought back after giving up a goal.
“It was an unfortunate goal that we gave up, but the kids fought through it,” Bauer said. “We went up 1-0 in the first half. Both of our goals were scored by Jaaron Frye, and both were assisted by Jordan Schwingendorf. They created good accommodations up top throughout the game.”
Bauer entered the season with his team’s defense as the main priority in their first scrimmage of the season.
“We didn’t allow very many chances, but unfortunately, Giddings put one away on us on the few chances they had,” he said. “Overall, it was a good game for us. We had a lot of new players playing in new spots. It was a different style of play for most of them. It was good to see how we moved the ball and we kept control of most of the game. It was a good effort and a good first scrimmage for us to see.”
The Panthers have some hot shots on the offensive side of the ball, and Bauer said he was happy with their performance on that side of the ball, but admitted that their defense could use some work.
“Offensively, against Giddings, we played pretty well,” Bauer said. “We moved the ball upfield and created some gaps for our forwards. Our big thing is that we need to work on our defense. It was solid, but we still have some holes to fill. Offense was pretty good out of the back and inviting some pressure.”
The Panthers will travel to Temple this Thursday, Jan. 4, to compete in the Temple Tournament through Saturday, where Bauer said he’ll look for his team to improve upon their defense that has struggled thus far.
“In the first game, I am just looking for a good defensive shape,” Bauer said. “Our defense is our weak spot right now, so we have to get that ready before district comes around. I have confidence in our offense, and I think the opportunity to score will come. We need to work on our defense, and we will be fine.”
The Temple Tournament will offer Bauer a chance to evaluate his team against quality opponents. This will be the third year in a row that Liberty Hill has opened the regular season against Waco, and they are still seeking their first win over the opponent they see so often.
“It’s funny, because we always get drawn with Waco High School at this tournament, and they have a really talented soccer program,” Bauer said. “We’ve lost to them the last two years, so we are looking to take a step forward. They are a really good 5A team, and we need to compete with those schools. Copperas Cove will be athletic and challenge us. We will have to deal with the pressure they provide. With La Vega and China Spring, hopefully we can dictate the pace and play our style.”
On Thursday, Jan. 4, the Panthers will face Waco at 1 p.m. On Friday, Liberty Hill will play Copperas Cove at noon and China Spring at 6 p.m., and on Saturday, they will face Waco La Vega at 8 a.m. in their final game of the tournament.