By Mike Maltais
“It has been a few years since we have defeated Brewster,” said coach Mike Wilson.
But last Thursday (Sept. 26) the Liberty Bell High School girls’ varsity soccer team did just that, 6-3, on the strength of four first-half goals off the foot of freshman midfielder Mia Kennedy.
Kennedy caught the Bears back fielders hibernating in the second, sixth, seventh and 20th minutes of play and knocked in three unassisted scores and another off an assist by eighth-grade striker Corinne Dietz, her first in varsity action.
“Brewster was playing their defense way up, and we just decided to send the ball to Mia vertically,” Wilson said. “She basically out ran their defense four times from midfield to the goal.”
Five minutes into the second half eighth grade midfielder Danielle Mott made the score 5-0 with her first varsity goal.
Suddenly, the Bears woke up.
In the space of nine minutes Brewster staged what amounted to a post-slumber rally and scored three unanswered goals in the 46th, 48th and 55th minutes of the second half. The three points represented half of the six shots Brewster got on goal compared to the 15 fired by Liberty Bell.
Dietz finished off the Bears with her own goal in the 61st minute of the game.
The Mountain Lions have been plagued by injuries of late that have left the 20-girl roster with 13 healthy players. During the pre-game warm-up senior team co-captain Tulie Budiselich was sidelined with a concussion and during the game eighth-grade goalkeeper Lauren Ochoa also left the field with a concussion.
“As a result, we had to move some players up the depth chart and some eighth-graders got their first varsity start,” Wilson said.
“Anna Post and Stella Gunnip-Hunter were called up to start in the defense,” Wilson said. “They played the whole match, learned a lot, and played beyond our expectations. As a result the whole starting defense was eighth-graders.”
Wilson said he was particularly impressed by the “high quality of play” shown by Kennedy, Ella Hall and Cassidy Butler.
“I was really impressed with their poise in the back,” Wilson said.
In a tight defensive match against Warden Saturday (Sept. 28), neither team overworked the goalkeepers. Warden got off eight shots on goal, two for scores, while Liberty Bell fired six attempts for one point.
Warden got on the board first in the 31st minute.
The Lady Lions scored on a penalty kick by Mott in the 49th minute.
The Cougars converted a free kick into the winning goal in the 60th minute.
“We had opportunities with free kicks within the ‘danger zone’ but were unable to convert and that was the difference,” Wilson said.
Injuries left the Lady Lions with only three substitutes but the team played well despite the shallow bench.
“It was probably the best full match the team has played all year,” Wilson said. “There was end-to-end action, and we were really good about being first to the ball, trying to possess it, and playing physical.”
Wilson credited the maturity of his younger players who have stepped into the vacuum left by injured starters.
“Many of these younger players would not have had as much varsity time if it wasn’t for the injuries,” Wilson said.
“Anna Post again had a very solid game at right back and Hannah Weymuller is becoming a physical force in the middle defense. Haley Post continues to grow as the leader of the defense and is often taken for granted as a rock in the back,” Wilson noted. “We forget she is in eighth grade we rely on her so much.”
The coach also singled out the performance of senior goalkeeper and co-captain Hannah Hafsos, senior midfielder and co-captain Estrella Corrigan and sophomore striker Hall.
The Lady Lions were scheduled to host Oroville Tuesday (Oct. 1). They will be on the road at Okanogan for a game at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 8).