BY MIKE MALTAIS
The hopes for a district berth for the Liberty Bell High School varsity boys’ soccer team died fighting on the field at Bridgeport last Wednesday, May 1, after the Mountain Lions succumbed, 6-1, to a determined herd of Mustangs.
In spite of falling short in their quest for the last remaining slot in the playoffs, the Mountain Lions brought several frustrating seasons to a successful conclusion with an overall winning record of 8-6-1, a far cry from three previous years that only saw the team win two of 46 games.
The game that was scheduled to take place Tuesday, April 30, was pushed back a day after the team arrived at Bridgeport only to discover that officials for the varsity game were unavailable. The Mountain Lions returned to the pitch the following day to pick up where they left off, but some of the pieces were missing
“They came at us with guns blazing,” coach Mike Wilson said of the Bridgeport attack, “and we came out a little flat.
The Mustangs relied on their fast-paced approach to keep Liberty Bell off balance with smothering defensive play.
“As soon as we would get possession they would have two defenders on the ball immediately,” Wilson said.
Bridgeport scored first in the 11th minute but the Mountain Lions responded in the 18th.
“Nic Ulmer scored with a header off a corner kick and assist by Jorge Lara that was one of the two best goals I’ve seen us make all season,” Wilson said.
The Mustangs wasted little time and fired back in the 22nd and 24th minutes with two more goals to take a 3-1 lead into halftime.
Bridgeport stayed with its starters while Wilson cleared his bench during the second half. Still, the Mountain Lions held the Mustangs scoreless for much of the final period. Goalkeeper Zane Stanbery blocked 11 of 17 shots but three of the six he missed came in the last half of the game to seal the district slot for Bridgeport.
Wilson paid tribute for his eight seniors who remained with the team through the past four seasons.
“I’m really proud of these guys for coming back after three years of losses and leaving the program better than they found it,” Wilson said.
All-League nominations are scheduled to be announced on Monday (May 13).