LBHS falls to Crosspoint, 5-1, in finals showdown
By Mike Maltais
The Liberty Bell High School varsity girls’ soccer team defied conventional odds this season when it leveraged a third-place ranking in the expanded Central Washington 2B league into the Lady Lions’ highest-ever finish — second place — in the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s 1B/2B state soccer championships last Saturday (Nov. 22).
Liberty Bell defeated the Friday Harbor Wolverines, 1- 0, in the first round of final four competition on Friday (Nov. 21) to set the stage for the championship final against the Crosspoint Academy Warriors the following day. The Lady Lions fell to Crosspoint, 5-1, to take the second-place trophy.
The Lady Lions, with nearly three-quarters of their roster comprised of freshmen and eighth graders, had to first get past former 1A Caribou Trail teams Brewster, Tonasket and Okanogan as new 2B league rivals before setting their sights on the remaining 50-plus Washington schools that field B-level girls soccer squads.
The LBHS soccer girls pulled out the crucial post-season wins when most needed to advance from third place in the CW2B to the state final four.
A 3-1 win over CWB south division rival Mabton on Nov. 1, in the first round of district play, put the Lady Lions on the road to meet league champion Okanogan on Nov. 4. The Bulldogs defeated Liberty Bell, 3-0, and would end up with first place in District 5/6/7 as well.
The Lady Lions next faced Brewster at Wenatchee’s Apple Cup on Nov. 8, in a battle for the tri-district’s third and fourth seed to state. With three key starters missing from the team roster due to injuries, Liberty Bell fell to the Bears, 2-0, leaving the Lady Lions with one more loss standing between them and playoff elimination.
The opponent blocking Liberty Bell’s third consecutive trip to state was once again the Bulldogs, a team the Lady Lions had already met three times in regulation and post-season competition, winning one game and losing two.
The loser-out showdown between Liberty Bell and district champ Okanogan was decided on Nov. 15, in a 1-0 double-overtime, six-ball, sudden-death shootout at Okanogan’s Central Valley Sports Complex. Sophomore forward Corinne Dietz kicked what turned out to be Liberty Bell’s winning goal before freshman goalkeeper Lauren Ochoa caught Okanogan’s attempt to even the score, and the Lady Lions were on their way to Sumner’s Sunset Stadium and the state final four championships.
The Lady Lions departed for Sumner on Thursday (Nov. 20) at 11 a.m. with a scheduled pre-game stop at Daffodil Elementary School in Sumner on Friday morning. There, the girls split into three groups to visit classes and speak to the youngsters about the importance of good grades, goal setting and motivation.
Friday Harbor sinks
Liberty Bell opened its third consecutive trip to the final four amid rain pouring on the pitch against 12-2 Friday Harbor, winner of the Northwest league crown. The Wolverines had lost to Crosspoint, 5-0, but rebounded to beat Brewster, 2-0, for the right to meet the Lady Lions.
The Lady Lions went on the attack from the opening whistle and kept Friday Harbor on the defense from the get-go, never giving them a chance to mount an effective counterstrike offense.
“We just hustled and pressured them so quickly that they never got a chance to settle the ball down,” said coach
Liberty Bell controlled the ball and momentum for much of the contest, and kept the action confined largely to Friday Harbor’s end of the pitch.
“Often in that scenario they have so many players back that it’s hard to create scoring opportunities,” Post said of the Wolverines’ containment.
“They did have a couple of scoring opportunities,” Post added, “but they didn’t get good shots on goal.”
The Lady Lions did, however, and midway into the second half eighth grader Cailin Chandler took an Aden Jones assist and scored from close range to give Liberty Bell the game’s only — and winning — goal.
Jones received the game’s sportsmanship award.
Warriors win it
With both the rain and the Wolverines behind them, the Lady Lions faced defending state champion Crosspoint Academy of Bremerton at 2 p.m. Saturday for all the marbles.
During the course of the playoffs, Crosspoint had distinguished itself as “a high-scoring team,” Post said.
In the run-up to state, the Warriors defeated Friday Harbor, 5-0, and smothered Life Christian Academy, 7-2, in the round of eight. Crosspoint blanked final four opponent Adna, 4-0, to send the Pirates into the consolation game against the Wolverines.
Crosspoint went on the attack early and forced Ochoa to make her first saves before five minutes was off the first-half clock.
While the game action was taking place at midfield, the Warriors managed to find junior midfielder Kalie Nation with a pass as she broke toward Liberty Bell’s goal for Crosspoint’s first unassisted score barely five minutes into the game.
The Lady Lions answered with drives into Crosspoint’s well-defended territory for several shots from distance by Dietz and Danielle Mott, who put one over the crossbar.
The Warriors had a couple of good looks as well, including a missed header by senior Desere’e Doty, and a shot over the crossbar by Grace Anderson.
At the 26-minute mark in the first half, the speedy Doty took the ball 40 yards for a breakaway score that got by Ochoa when she tried to advance on the ball before Doty could get her kick away.
Senior Emma Laurian scored the first of her two goals 30 minutes into the first half to give Crosspoint a 3-0 advantage at halftime.
Laurian scored again early in the second half and Doty added her second goal midway through the period to put the Warriors up, 5-0.
In spite of sound tactical play, effective passing and good footwork by the Lady Lions, Crosspoint managed to collapse on defense to thwart goal attempts by Jones and Sally Thornton-White. While the Warriors were able to deflect scoring attempts from close range, they were not prepared for the high, arching shot from 30 yards out by Mia Kennedy that sailed over the keeper’s head and into the back of the net with 22 minutes remaining in the game.
Despite more goal attempts from both sides, the final 20 minutes of the game were scoreless.
Ochoa received the game’s sportsmanship award.
“Ultimately I felt like the game was closer than the score indicated,” said Post, who credited the skill and experience of his older players and the heart and determination of the younger girls with getting Liberty Bell one step closer to the first-place trophy.
In their last three consecutive trips to the state soccer championships, the Lady Lions placed fourth in 2012, third in 2013, and second this year. The team will lose seniors Tabitha Bergevin-Krumme, Hannah Hogness, Lily White, Julia Vu and Lucie Dupont to graduation next June.