Lady Panther shutout Lady Cougars, sweep season series

Sophomore Claudia Fuenmayor (#14) uses her leverage to win possession for the Panthers. She has scored two goals on six games played on varsity this season. (Shannon Hofmann Photo)

Sophomore Claudia Fuenmayor (#14) uses her leverage to win possession for the Panthers. She has scored two goals on six games played on varsity this season. (Shannon Hofmann Photo)

By Paul Livengood

The Liberty Hill Lady Panthers faced off against the Jarrell Lady Cougars last Friday, March 3rd, winning their second matchup of the season 7-0. The girls defeated Jarrell 6-0 in their first match at home in early February.

There were some key players missing, allowing the Lady Panthers to show off their depth. Liberty Hill has been without starting goalkeeper Mackenzy Turner for the past three games due to injury. Freshman goalkeeper Miranda Durkin got the start and played all 80 minutes.

“I thought the girls played well,” Head Coach Darren Bauer said. “We were without a couple of starters, and some others were ill and could not play as much as we would have liked, but it allowed the younger girls to get in and get more time on the field, and they did not disappoint.”

Everyone was getting involved on Friday, as nine different players recorded points in the 7-0 victory. No single player recorded more than one goal or one assist. Kendal James was the only player who had one of each.

Brianna Stark, Emma Hofmann, Payton Swieczkowski, Kelsey Moore, Kyla Boliek, and Madison Dube were the other goal scorers. Seniors Kassidy Freeman and Alex Svetlik recorded points in the assist column. Stark is on a tear as of late—scoring in each of the past four games (six goals in those four games).

Underclassmen posted 11 of the 17 overall points for the Lady Panthers.

“We have gotten the chance to see how our team is going to shape up next year, and the future is still very bright,” Bauer said. “There were times we needed to do a better job controlling the ball and finish some more of our chances, but those were minor issues that we fixed very quickly in the game.”

Liberty Hill put Jarrell in a large hole early, dominating the first half by a score of 5-0. Bauer and the girls have made a living in their district schedule by opening with huge first-half leads.

“Getting an early lead allows us to relax more, have fun and work on some things and try new ideas that we might not get to in a tighter game,” Bauer said.

Bauer credits the team’s defensive pressure for the four- and five-goal leads before the halftime break that have been so common as of late.

“We are not allowing our opponents to get on the ball and get comfortable,” Bauer said. “We are forcing them to turn over the ball very quickly, and it gets frustrating, which is what we want. It is also nice to have the ability to play our goalkeepers at their feet; it allows us to relieve pressure from the other team. Most teams do not have that luxury, and it helps more than most think.”

Durkin secured the fourth shutout of her freshman season, improving her starting record to 4-2 this season. The Lady Panthers have forced four straight shutouts and have eight total this season.

With the win, the Lady Panthers improve to 11-7 overall with a 9-1 district record. Liberty Hill travels to Gateway College Preparatory this Friday for the second matchup with the Lady Gators this season. Liberty Hill stole the first showing 11-0 at home in January.

Bauer says he has a whole new team on his hands now since the Lady Panthers and the Lady Gators last played, but expects a fight, regardless.

“We are much more confident going into the Gateway game now,” Bauer said. “We have had plenty of time to work on our issues we were having early on in the season and fine tune some other things. Gateway is going to be a tough game. Even with the score line in the first game, they always come out and play us tough.”