Strong defensive effort thwarts Melissa, lifts Liberty Hill into championship game
By Lance Catchings
GEORGETOWN – The Liberty Hill girls soccer team is State Championship bound. On a warm, muggy afternoon at the Georgetown ISD Athletic Complex the girls used timely offense and a strong defensive effort to put the brakes on a speedy Melissa team. Liberty Hill defeated Melissa 2-1 in the class 4A state semifinals to advance to the championship game where they will take on Stephenville.
The state semifinal started with Melissa initially taking control but unable to convert their possession into points. Senior Brooke Briscoe scored the lone goal of the first half on an assist from teammate Piper Tabor with 19:42 remaining in the first half to play. Melissa tried to pressure but sophomore goalie Samantha Carter came up with three big saves in the first half to shutout the Cardinals.
Liberty Hill took a 1-0 lead into halftime. In the second half it was a game of back-and-forth battle for possession and fast breaks but both defensive lines and goalies worked hard to keep the ball out of the net. Kendal James scored midway through the second half and Liberty Hill had grabbed the 2-0 lead. Even so Melissa refused to go away. With just under four minutes left to play the Cardinals netted a goal to make the score 2-1 but it was too little too late as the Liberty Hill defense was too much to overcome. Head coach Darren Bauer said his team expected a tough game and that is what they got.
“We knew Melissa would be fast physical and athletic,” Bauer said. “Our game plan was to come in and possess just like we have done all year long. We had to make an adjustment pretty quick and I thought the girls did well with that. We told them what we wanted them to do and they took advantage. After we went up 1-0, we felt good but you still have to push. Even when you get up 2-0 like we did you’re still not comfortable. At this level you know the teams are good and you must keep playing and that’s what the girls did today.”
Bauer complemented his goalie on her efforts after the game. Carter had not been challenged much this season but when she has been has stepped up to the call.
“Samantha Carter shows up in the big games,” he said. “There have been games all year long where there have been times that she doesn’t get challenged and teams don’t pressure her that much. To see her come in the state semifinals and come up big like she has the past two years is fun to watch.”
Senior team captain Kyla Boliek said watching her teammates celebrate was a satisfying moment knowing they had advanced to the championship game. She also applauded her teammates for their strong defensive effort against a dangerous opponent.
“It is extremely satisfying to come back and get past the level that we were at last year,” Boliek said.
“To see all the girls so elated and happy that we have got this far is a great feeling. Being a part of the defense is hard work, but it is one of my parts of the team and we love to do it. It feels amazing to be a senior team captain and help lead your team into the state championship game. I love all these girls and to watch our younger players grow is amazing to see how much they have improved since last year.”
Liberty Hill will face off against Stephenville Thursday afternoon in the class 4A State Championship at 2:30 p.m. Liberty Hill lost a 3-0 decision to Stephenville earlier this season in February and the head coach said it will be another tough game.
“We just have to come out and play our game,” Bauer said. “When we played them before I don’t feel like we played our best. They are a good team and it will be a battle so hopefully we can come out and do the same thing we did today.”