By Mike Maltais
In the end it came down to a contest between goalkeepers — and that’s just the kind of pressure Lauren Ochoa likes. Liberty Bell High School’s varsity soccer goalkeeper blocked two of three overtime kicks by Tonasket’s best to cage the threatening Tigers and secure a 4-2 victory for Liberty Bell.
Liberty Bell needed a little nudge at the end of regulation play, plus two five-minute overtimes, to tip the favored Tigers into the loss column.
The Tigers started the first period like they intended to own the pitch with a quick goal in the early minutes, but were unable to capitalize on the momentum.
When Sally Thornton-White took a Mia Kennedy assist and tied the game near the end of the first period, the Lady Lions’ defense stiffened and the Tigers shot empty rounds for the remainder of regulation play.
Whether Tonasket knew it or not, an overtime shootout shifted the advantage strongly in favor of Liberty Bell. With a likely All-League selection guarding their goal, the Lady Lions were free to focus on getting their shots past the Tigers’ defender.
Tonasket won the coin toss, kicked first and Ochoa made a solid stop, falling on the ball near the left side of the net.
Kennedy was first up for Liberty Bell and sent her shot home to put the Lady Lions up, 2-1.
Tonasket’s second shot ran into the Ochoa wall to protect Liberty Bell’s lead.
Thornton-White scored next to put the Lions up 3-1 and all but out of reach of the Tigers.
Tonasket’s third kick slipped through Ochoa’s hands to keep the Tigers alive going into the third round.
Haley Post stepped to the line for what would turn out to be Liberty Bell’s third — and deciding — point to give the Lady Lions the 4-2 victory.
The Lady Lions stayed on the winning track with a 5-1 victory against visiting Entiat last Thursday (Oct. 16).
Following a 0-0 first half, Kennedy scored the first goal for Liberty Bell, but the Tigers answered back to tie the game 1-1.
Thornton-White took an assist from Aden Jones to score point number two and quickly added a second unassisted goal t the Lady Lions up, 3-1.
The final two goals were all Haley Post, as the team’s center defender — moved into the forward position for the Entiat game — knocked in points four and five.
It was a different story against visiting Omak on Saturday (Oct. 18), as the Lady Lions had to battle through a strong defense and goalkeeper to get the best of the Pioneers. But junior midfielder Aden Jones stripped an Omak player of the ball and scored the only the goal of the game to give the Lady Lions the 1-0 victory.
As Liberty Bell approaches post-season play, coach Lincoln Post said that of his three components of the game — the defensive third, the middle third, and the attacking third — he will be focusing on the latter to keep team momentum at a effective level.
“Getting through the playoffs will be more difficult this season,” Post noted of the new league configuration.
“Last year we won league and went to state,” Post said. “This year we have to win the north-south divisions and then regional to get to state.”
The Lady Lions are currently ranked third in the Central Washington 2B North at 9-2 behind first place Okanogan, 11-0, and second place Tonasket, 10-2.
Liberty Bell was scheduled to play the Fillies at Bridgeport on Tuesday (Oct. 21), and will host Oroville for Senior Night on Thursday (Oct. 23) at 4:30 p.m.