Panthers lose in penalty kicks after two delays
By Paul Livengood
The Liberty Hill boys varsity soccer game was delayed 35 minutes Tuesday due to inclement weather.
Following the girls’ varsity game, which was played in pouring rain and 40 degree weather, the boys were delayed as a lightning bolt struck minutes into the 15-minute warmup, and the clock started ticking.
After the delay, the boys’ soccer team took the field against the Salado Eagles. The Eagles came into the matchup with a 7-1 record, winning four games as a tournament host and the other three in a tournament at Boerne High School.
Unlike the girls’ game, the varsity boys’ matchup started with clear skies after the weather delay. That changed, however, with about three minutes left before the halftime break. The rain came poured down onto the field for the final three minutes of the first half.
The Eagles and Panthers played a back-and-forth game the entire first half. Salado had the first opportunity to break the deadlock. Pushing up the field with numbers, Salado rifled a shot at Liberty Hill goalkeeper Parker Sargent, but it skimmed the top of the cross bar and went through the football uprights.
The score at halftime read 0-0.
Salado’s Daniel Magadan gave the Panthers a scare early in the second half with his 35-yard shot from outside of the box, but Sargent eased those nerves with a clutch save.
Almost halfway into the second half, Dawson Carroll nearly gave Liberty Hill the lead with a line-drive shot from the 30-yard line on the football field, driving the ball 40 yards and barley missing the goal high by no more than a foot.
Then, as if the weather delay wasn’t enough, the game stalled once more. With 9:30 left on the game clock, the lights to Panther Stadium shut off. It took a 15-minute delay to get the lights back on and finish the last nine minutes of regulation.
After all the theatrics, the match went to extra time after finishing regulation tied 0-0.
Liberty Hill had the most open opportunity to score in the entire game during the second extra time session. Jordan Schwingendorf made a run behind the Eagles’ back line with room to make a touch on a long ball played overhead. Schwingendorf shot with the outside of his right foot and missed wide right.
The game would be go on to be decided by penalty kicks. Once again, the attention was back on Schwingendorf, as he was the Panthers first penalty kicker. The Panthers leading scorer shot to his left, only to be saved by the Eagles’ goaltender.
Salado made its first penalty kick on Sargent, and led 1-0. Colton Walter canned his penalty kick for Panthers and tied up the score 1-1, but Salado answered.
Next up for the Panthers was Bryce Stratton. Stratton walked up to the spot, down 1-2, and hit the crossbar with his penalty kick. Salado made their third penalty kick in a row shortly after.
Down 1-3, to stay alive, Slade Cummins would have to make his penalty kick or the Panthers would lose. The senior shot, hit the left post, and the game was over. Salado defeated Liberty Hill by a final score of 3-1 after penalty kicks.
The Panthers record dropped to 3-4, overall, and 0-1 in district.
Next up, the Panthers face off against Leander Thursday, Jan. 19, at 4 p.m. in their opening game of the LISD Winter Soccer Tournament at Leander High School.
The JV boys team secured their first win of the season with a 2-0 victory against Salado on Monday.
The team holds a record of 1-2 after starting the season with back-to-back losses against Bastrop and Hutto.