The final game the Liberty Bell High School girls’ soccer team played last season was against Adna, at the state tournament in Sumner. Playing for third place, the Lady Lions lost, 3-0, to the Pirates.
Liberty Bell has a chance for revenge and another trip to Sumner when the Lady Lions host Adna on Saturday (Nov. 16) in a state tournament quarterfinal match. Action starts at 1 p.m. at Mountain Lion Stadium.
Liberty Bell earned the No. 1 seed from District 6 in the round of eight by winning the CW 2B league championship with two extraordinarily dramatic victories last week.
First, the Lady Lions advanced to the league championship game with a home-field win over Brewster that went through two overtimes and into seven nerve-wracking shootout rounds before it was settled with a sudden-death goal by Cymone Van Marter.
Then, in the league championship game at Tonasket, Liberty Bell’s last-minute goal tied the regulation time score at 5-5 in what Liberty Bell head coach Lincoln Post called “the most exciting soccer game I’ve ever seen.” The teams battled through two overtimes without scoring, and advanced to the shootout rounds as the sun was setting at Tonasket’s field, which does not have lights. The Lady Lions finally prevailed in the gloaming on a winning shot by McKenna Kurtz.
“We as coaches not only try to develop skills and tactical strategies but most importantly try to develop a team chemistry where the players trust each other and play as a whole, going beyond where they can as individuals,” Post said. “Both of the games this week showed an incredible resiliency and effort that surpassed any of our previous games this season.”
Liberty Bell /Brewster
Brewster, which lost two close games to the Lady Lions during the regular season, took a 1-0 first-half lead. Liberty Bell’s Tommie Ochoa scored in the second half on a penalty kick to tie the game, 1-1.
“We thought we had the go-ahead goal late in the game on a beautiful shot from Adee Smith but the goal was overruled,” Post said.
Goalkeeper Chloe Sprauer had an excellent game for the Lady Lions, Post said. But in the shootout, the coach turned to Ochoa — the All-League first-team goalkeeper last year as a junior, but who has been playing midfield most of this season.
“Tommie has had more experience with shootouts so she went into goal,” Post said. A couple of diving saves by Ochoa affirmed that strategy, giving Van Marter the opportunity to fire in the winning shot.
“I thought that intensity of the Brewster game was high but the Tonasket match was at another level,” Post said. Both teams scored quickly with what Post described as beautifully executed goals. “Thus began the most amazing back-and-forth game with the lead changing sides but neither getting ahead by more than one goal,” Post said.
Near the game’s end, Tonasket took a 5-4 lead in the final two minutes, when the remaining time is at the discretion of the head referee. “The home town crowd was ecstatic thinking that that would be the game-winning goal,” Post said. “But true to the spirit of the game, Liberty Bell came right back and scored with a goal by Adee smith to tie the game in the last seconds of the match.”
Liberty Bell dominated play in overtime but was unable to score. As the shootout rounds began, “from the sidelines it was almost too dark to see,” Post said. Van Marter, Wyatt Albright and Kurtz scored to seal the victory for the Lady Lions.
“McKenna’s shot was saved at the first attempt but the Tonasket goalkeeper had come off her line and so McKenna was allowed a retake, and calm as can be she scored for the win,” Post said.
In regular time, Ochoa went on a scoring rampage with four of the team’s five goals. In the shootout, she was back in the net and went from the unstoppable to the stopper, making two more crucial saves.
“In both of these matches the team play and effort was outstanding by all of the players,” Post said. “We are really finding our strength at the right time in the season and are looking forward to our quarterfinal match at home versus Adna.”
With a victory over Adna, Liberty Bell would play in Sumner on Nov. 22-23.