Panthers post senior night shutout
By TAYLOR GRAFFT
Lucas Rizzotto might not have planned it, but the senior saved one of his best games for last, scoring three goals in his final home game for Liberty Hill. Those goals helped lift the Liberty Hill soccer team to a 3-1 victory over Lampasas, as the Panthers improved their district record to a perfect 5-0 on Senior Night.
“It definitely wasn’t a plan, but I was hoping for a few goals,” Rizzotto said after the game. “First half we knew Lampasas was a good team and that they’d give us trouble. As soon as we came out at half and we got that second goal it kind of lifted our spirits and gave us encouragement to keep going.”
The two teams were locked in a 1-1 tie at the halftime interval, but weren’t even on the pitch. Liberty Hill enjoyed a majority of the possession and created a bulk of the scoring chances. The only difference was the Panthers’ inability to finish in the final third.
In the first half Liberty Hill (15-4-1, 5-0 District) outshot Lampasas 19 to 5, with six of the Panthers shots actually being on target.
Rizzotto gave the Panthers an early lead in the 17-minute mark. Zach Zausch played a through ball from the midfield that opened up the defense. Rizzotto picked up the pass then unleashed a low shot from the right of the box that found the bottom left corner of the net.
With less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Lampasas found the equalizer. A Liberty Hill defender slipped when trying to control a pass from a teammate and it allowed the Badgers to pick up the ball in dangerous territory. The Lampasas player sent in a whipping cross to the back post that was headed down and into the net. The Liberty Hill goalkeeper was able to get a few fingertips to the header, but was not able to keep it completely out of his net.
In the second half, Liberty Hill pressed higher up the pitch to win possession back in more dangerous areas. That strategy worked out well as the Panthers created more chances and were more accurate with their shots. Liberty Hill shot the ball 19 times with 10 of those shots being on target. They also won six corners in the second half.
Up until 11 minutes left in the match the Panthers looked like they would have to be content with going into extra time and possibly even penalty kicks, but then Rizzotto found a little bit of luck to give his team the advantage.
A Panther teammate played the ball to Rizzotto from midfield, he then brought the ball down with his chest and dribbled towards goal. Rizzotto was surrounded by a few Lampasas defenders closing in on him in the box, but attempted a shot anyway. The ball took a few lucky rolls and left the keeper flat-footed, and then found its way into the net.
Four minutes later, Rizzotto made sure his senior night was as memorable as possible when he unleashed a rocket from about 27 yards out that was too powerful for the goalkeeper to get a hand on, and ended up in the back of the net.
Liberty Hill will travel to Salado for their final district game of the season before starting playoffs.