Sometimes it really doesn’t matter what records are, who’s got what, and how a team has been playing in comparison to another. Sometimes history indicates when a contest is going to be a real scrap, and that is the case when the Liberty Bell High School and Tonasket girls’ soccer programs mix it up on the pitch.
Such was the case at Mountain Lion Stadium on Thursday (Sept. 26). The Tigers prevailed in overtime, 5-4, in a contest that had two distinct halves, capped by a hat-trick goal by Tonasket’s Heidi Cruz three minutes into the extra period.
Liberty Bell owned the first half, early on applying pressure on the Tonasket goal and keeping the ball in the Tiger end of the field. Josephine Cole opened the Liberty Bell scoring when she broke free with the ball just inside midfield, driving downfield, and blasting the ball past Tonasket’s net minder Melanie Morales at 8:10 into the contest for the 1-0 lead. The Tigers responded quickly, Cruz getting the first of her three goals less than a minute later.
Physical, hustling play was the tone of the early match, with clean tackles and effort-forced tumbles sending a number of athletes to the turf, with frequency. Maisy Shaw broke the tie at 21:10 when she took a pass from Clementine Palinska and drove the ball to the back of the net for the 2-1 Liberty Bell lead. The Lady Lions closed out the first half when Tommy Ochoa sent a pass from Adee Smith into the goal with only a few seconds left to extend the lead to 3-1 at the break.
Araceli Torres found the net for the visitors at 7:28 into the second half and less than two minutes later, Cruz tied the match at 3 with her second goal. Those tallies seemed to motivate Mountain Lion goalkeeper Chloe Sprauer, as she strung together a series of acrobatic saves, diving to her left for one, tipping a high shot up in front of the goal, then falling on it as it hit the ground at her feet to keep the match tied. Cole hit for her second score to put the home team in front at the 18-minute mark, 4-3.
The action went end to end for the next 10 minutes, both keepers turning away shots as defense became the theme. Liberty Bell had two golden opportunities midway into the second period as Cole put a shot barely over the crossbar and Maya Sheely’s shot across the front of the goal was barely wide to the right. Tonasket’s Rachel Bolich snuck one past Sprauer with 7:40 to go in regulation to tie the match at 4, and eventually send the contest to overtime.
The Tigers pretty much controlled the ball and tempo in the five-minute overtime, Cruz hitting the game winner and sending them back to Tonasket with the win.
“They were a well-coached team,” Liberty Bell coach Lincoln Post said after the game.
“They would step back and catch us off-sides,” Post noted, referring to a number of off-sides calls throughout the match. “When they didn’t do that, we were able to get behind them and you saw Jo [Cole] score on a play like that,” referring to Josephine Cole’s early breakaway goal.
The Lions dropped to 3-1 in league play, good for second behind the first-place and 4-0 Tigers. Liberty Bell traveled to Oroville for a Tuesday (Oct. 1) match, then on to Lake Roosevelt to challenge the Raiders on Thursday (Oct. 3).