Lady Panthers, Tigers on collision course
By Scott Akanewich
Liberty Hill and Dripping Springs opened the season against one another nearly three months ago and one of the two sides will be able to say they ended the campaign against the same opponent.
The No. 7 Lady Panthers (21-3-2) will line up against the No. 3 Tigers (22-1-1) at Westlake High School on Friday night with it all to play for in a Class 5A regional quarterfinal matchup.
Both teams easily breezed past its first two playoff opponents, as Liberty Hill defeated Canyon, 3-0 and Medina Valley, 8-0, while Dripping Springs beat Rouse, 4-0 and Harlandale, 6-0.
However, the similarities between the squads don’t end there.
Both are currently riding double-digit winning streaks, as the Lady Panthers have won 10 straight and the Tigers 14.
Dripping Springs has posted shutouts in 20 of its 22 victories on the season, while Liberty Hill has 16 cleans sheets on the season, so goals will be at a premium in the rematch.
The sides also each have a 20-goal scorer among its ranks in the Lady Panthers’ Kailey Fowler (23) and the Tigers’ Sofia Picucci, who has also netted 23 times on the season.
Both teams boast 18 different players who have scored on the season, but Liberty Hill features five who have hit for double-digits in Fowler, Mykenna Russo (20), Piper Tabor (19), Emma Stephens (14) and Madi Fuller (10), while only Picucci and Taliyah Copeland (13) have 10 or more for Dripping Springs.
Picucci is the only Dripping Springs player to have 10 or more assists – with 14 – compared to four on the Lady Panthers’ roster in Abbey Janicek (20), Stephens (16), Russo (15) and Fowler (14).
Aside from each other, the teams have faced a number of common opponents, most notably Rouse, who Liberty Hill defeated in both meetings by scores of 1-0 and 2-1 and Canyon, who the Lady Panthers defeated, 3-0 and the Tigers downed by 1-0 and 2-0 scores.
In goal in the previous meeting between the sides, Liberty Hill senior goalkeeper Kylee Bush was forced into a season-high eight saves, while the Lady Panthers could muster only five shots in the contest.
The winner will move on the face the winner of the Gregory-Portland-Flour Bluff game in the regional semifinals.