Panthers fight back, drop opener, 4-3
By Scott Akanewich
Jaron Frye had a hat trick in Liberty Hill’s season-opener at the Panther Cup on Thursday afternoon, but the junior striker’s heroics proved to not be enough in a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Midlothian Heritage.
“It was a tough game,” said Frye. “We were a little bit lazy in the first half, but then we started to pick it up.”
Unfortunately, by the time the Panthers awoke from their early-game slumber, they found themselves in a 4-0 hole, but slowly began to claw their way out of it.
In the 56th minute, Frye converted a penalty to get the home side on the board and the goal seemed to ignite the Panthers’ attack.
Ethan Minix fired a shot on goal, which was saved by the Jaguars’ goalkeeper, but soon after, it was Frye who once again found the back of the net after breaking in on goal and beating the keeper with an expertly-placed shot to make it 4-2.
Only moments after the restart, Frye fired a shot from the left wing which cannoned off the crossbar, but in the 69th minute, he wasn’t to be denied his hat trick.
After the Panthers had won a free kick just outside the area, Frye stepped up a sent a screamer along the surface which passed through the Midlothian wall, then caromed off the outstretched hand of the keeper before banking in off the post and a 4-3 score.
However, that was all for the Purple-and-Gold as the visitors killed off the rest of the game.
According to Liberty Hill head coach Wayne Munger, his club struggled to remain resolute defensively in the first half.
“The biggest thing for us was we needed to be tighter with our marking,” said Munger. “It wasn’t until we began to get in better positions, we started to succeed and found our way back into the game.”
As for the goal haul Frye provided on the day, Munger is confident his star striker is only getting started.
“Jaron’s going to have a lot of goals in him,” he said. “He attracts so much attention, it opens things up for his teammates.”
Frye attributed the second-half turnaround to better communication.
“Our defense started talking to one another,” he said. “We can take a positive from this and learn from our mistakes.”
Frye scored 33 goals last season and is already well on pace to shatter that this campaign.
“I’m real excited about it,” he said. “There are a lot more to come.”
Liberty Hill (0-1) will next face Palestine on Saturday at 8 a.m., followed by a game against Progreso at 1:15 p.m.