Soccer Pounds the Pioneers 7-2, Nails Nannies 5-1
In an abrupt and noticeable turnaround from the delayed and adjusted 2020 season played the following spring, Mountain Lion girls’ soccer opened their 2021 campaign with two solid home field routs, 5-1 over Pateros on Tuesday, followed by a 7-2 thrashing of the Omak Pioneers on Saturday.
While starting out 2-0 on the young season might be surprising for some, former coach Lincoln Post, who helped out at practice on Monday, was not one of those. “They have all of their players back and there are some good players out there,” said Post. Still, with a total winning margin of 12-2 over the first two matches, it seems things have turned a huge corner since the 0-5 COVID-altered 2020 campaign last spring.
“Girls soccer showed up with their full potential on Saturday against Omak,” stated Coach Katie Overbeck. “We have several strong players and their combined talent is going to make for an outstanding season.”
Senior McKenna Kurtz broke a scoreless tie just before the ten minute mark of the first half, scoring the first goal of her senior season. The Pioneers put a shot in the net a few minutes later, and then it was all Mountain Lions after that, the equalizer “woke the team up,’ according to Overbeck. “Once the team found their groove, they dominated the passing game and would score another five goals.” Liberty Bell controlled the midfield area, keeping the ball in the Omak end, thereby keeping the pressure on the Pioneer defensive unit, eventually wearing them down with excellent ball handling and passing by Maisy Shaw, Lillian Overbeck, Wyatt Albright, Adee Smith and Marit Nelson. Extra pressure in the offensive end forced an Omak mistake — the Pioneers accidentally hitting their own goal, resulting in an additional tally for the Lions. Elke Wathen garnered notice as a key offensive player, moving the ball up the sideline with numerous passes into middle and across the field, helping to apply pressure on the Omak goal. Chloe Sprauer was equally noticeable in the defensive end, turning away the Pioneers with quickness and aggressive defensive play.
A Saturday second-half ankle turn sidelined senior Maisy Shaw for practice on Monday. “Paul (Niccolazzo, assistant coach) said that if I want to play Tuesday, I have to rest it today.” While Shaw described her status as day to day, she was pretty definite about Tuesday’s match at home versus Bridgeport. Describing the two opening games, Shaw said the wins “definitely feel good, especially after last season.” Probably feels better than having to sit and watch practice, too.
The Mountain Lions were scheduled to face Bridgeport in their third straight home match before heading out onto the road Thursday to Chelan. The Tuesday, (Sept. 21) upcoming match at home versus Oroville has been canceled and not rescheduled.
Football cements victory over Concrete
Sawyer Crandall intercepted three Concrete passes, one for a touchdown, and Riley Lidey, with his feet and his arm, led the Mountain Lions as they rolled past the Lions 46-6 on Friday night under the lights at Mountain Lion Stadium. It was the first game on the local field since early November of 2019.
Lidey, the junior quarterback for Liberty Bell, led the way offensively throwing for 172 yards, completing 11 of his 22 attempts, including a pair of touchdowns. He was intercepted only once, on a pass into the end zone, ending a potential touchdown drive.
The two teams exchanged early short drive possessions before Liberty Bell took the ball and opened the scoring on a 73 yard touchdown pass by Lidey to Connor Arndt. The extra point conversion attempt was denied by Concrete and the local boys were up 6-0. Concrete responded with a rather lengthy second drive of their own, but Nicholas White intercepted Owen Aamot’s pass at the Liberty Bell 27 and raced it 73 yards for an apparent touchdown. However, as can happen occasionally on sudden changes of possession, one of the would-be blockers in White’s convoy caught a Concrete player too much on the backside and was flagged for the penalty, wiping out the touchdown. But LBH maintained possession on the turnover. Lidey scored on a 42-yard scamper around left end to open up a two-touchdown lead and the Mountain Lions were on their way to a 20-0 first quarter lead, capped by Sawyer Crandall’s 35-yard pass interception return to the Concrete end zone.
Crandall added a second interception on the first play of the second quarter, and after a 55-yard connection from Lidey to Arndt was nullified by penalty, Lidey hit Lucien Paz for a touchdown. The quarterback called his own number on a 6 yard jaunt into the end zone as time ran out in the second quarter, giving the home team a 34-0 halftime lead.
Merek Johnson joined the scoring parade in the third frame with a late quarter 11-yard touchdown run, Concrete striking quickly with six seconds left in the quarter on a 49 yard pass and run play from Aamot to Josiah Rider for the Lions’ only score of the night. Johnson added a second TD run late in the game and the 46-6 score became the final.
Defensively, the Mountain Lions were pretty stingy. Noah Holston led the way with 11 tackles, several for loss and one quarterback sack. Nicholas White added six tackles to go with his first quarter interception, and freshman Quincy Scott had eight solo tackles.
Crandall’s three interceptions are the most in recent history for a single game, and he was all smiles in his post-game comments. He didn’t play football as a freshman, this was his first true home game on the turf in Mountain Lion Stadium. “I’ve never played here before” he said with an ear-to-ear grin. It seemed, in the emotion of the moment, it was all he could say as he nodded his head and went to celebrate with teammates on the track in front of the grandstand.
Coach Jeff Lidey was obviously pleased with the effort. He was struggling early in fall camp to fill some positions, particularly in the offensive and defensive lines. “It seems like I went from having no backups to very talented backups,” said the third year coach. “Right now I have depth in every position. Not just depth, but talent.”
The road gets a little tougher this week as the Mountain Lions travel to Pomeroy Friday to take on the highly ranked Pirates, with kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m. Pomeroy exited the 2020 COVID season ranked third in the state B-8 Coaches Poll, one spot ahead of fourth ranked Liberty Bell. A coaches’ poll hasn’t been published yet this year, as far as Lidey knows, but he suspects the Pirates will be just as good as they have been historically. “It’ll be a good early season test for us”, he said in an earlier interview with the Methow Valley News.
For now, they will take this win over the usually powerful 11-man team from Concrete. “We are only two weeks into the season but these boys only have one goal: Playoffs!,” stated the coach. If first impressions are anything of an indicator, that goal may well be attainable this year.
Volleyball sweeps Bridgeport
The Mountain Lions traveled to Bridgeport for their season opening Central Washington 2B League match and swept past the Fillies 3-0 on Tuesday, (Sept. 7). Set scores were 25-12, 25-14 and 25-17, the Mountain Lions leading wire to wire and disposing of the Fillies in short order.
Senior Jadyn Mitchell led the way for Liberty Bell with 13 kills, hitting on 16 of 17 service points including four aces and tallying 11 assists. Caitlyn Cooley went 13 of 13 from the service line and added eight kills, as did Shae Taylor and Joslyn Rispone added nine assists to the effort.
Coach Christine Scott was pleased with the effort. “The girls really played well, especially for the first match of the year,” said the fifth-year coach. While this year’s team is senior-heavy, there are some younger players who have caught the coach’s attention. M.J. Mihalic, Rio Lott and Neve Harmon have made the varsity as first year players. Lott and Harmon are freshman, Mihalic is a transfer in from Korea who, according to Scott has never played high school volleyball before. She is very athletic and has helped us out, a lot, so far.” All three are immediate contributors in practice and matches.
The Mountain Lions headed for Oroville on Tuesday, after press time, for a match they would seem to be favored to win, and then travel to Brewster on Thursday for an early season test against the perennial league favorite Bears. Start time for the Brewster match has been bumped up to 4pm for JV and 5:30 pm for varsity.
Early Friday morning the Mountain Lions travel to Yakima for the SunDome Volleyball Festival, a single day affair that has them playing in the court 3 pool (of four designated pools) against Yakama Tribal at 8 a.m., West Valley’s (Yakima) JV and the always tough Colfax Bulldogs of the Southeast 2B League. A three round, single elimination tournament concludes the festival with the corresponding seeds from each court’s four team pool round robin sets (Seed #1 from court 3 would go into the championship round with the other three #1 seeds from courts 1, 2 and 4). That could result in a six-match day for the Mountain Lions, a taste of what lies ahead at District and State Tournament time later this Fall. More SunDome Volleyball Festival information is available at https://yakimavalleyvolleyball.com/.
First home action for Liberty Bell is set for Tuesday, (Sept. 21) when the Manson Trojans enter the Lions’ Den, JV at 5 p.m., varsity action scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
Cross country gears up at Sehome
Freshman Dexter Delaney sent an early season message to his team and to the state that he is ready to make the jump from middle school to the big courses by taking individual honors in the freshman race at the Sehome Gear Up season opening meet in Bellingham this past Saturday. His time of 10:38.64 over the 2 mile course was just good enough to defeat Hudson Atrosh of Seattle Prep (10:39.23) and places him at the top of the B school classification in the 2 mile distance after the first weekend of statewide meets.
“Dexter had perhaps the battle of the meet with a fellow freshman from Seattle Prep and the two runners pressed each other hard with various lead changes through the whole second lap,” reported head coach Erik Brooks. “Overall the kids ran terrific. Every single person set a new PR for a XC two mile course and we were competitive and racing hard from our youngest to oldest and most experienced to least.”
On the girls’ side, only four runners participated in the Gear Up. Senior Jori Grialou led that group with a 13th place finish in the senior division. Her time turned out to be the third-fastest statewide in the B classification for two miles. Grialou is an early season favorite in the Central Washington B League.
The junior high team showed well at the Manson Invitational on Saturday, with Liberty Bell’s Ingrid Venable taking first place honors in the girls’ race and eighth-grader Bodie Thomson finishing first in the boys’ race. Venable’s time of 11:14.67 was 5 seconds ahead of Brewster’s Julissa Najera, followed by six more Mountain Lions, in a race where only LBJH had enough runners to field a scoring team. Ben Kaufman was the only other Mountain Lion in the top ten for boys, but the boys did score a second place 39 points to Okanogan’s 30. “All of our kids ran really well, and really smart races,” said coach Liam Daily. The junior high program has expanded to include sixth-graders this year, and fields a combined 445 athletes on this year’s team.
This weekend’s Wenatchee invite at the 5k Walla Walla Point Park course will be the first true indicator of where the Mountain Lions are regionally and statewide. A large meet, schools from the 1B class all the way up to meet host 4A Wenatchee will be in attendance, including most of LBH’s CWB league and District rivals. The first of the junior high runners go at 10 a.m., the rest follow at half hour intervals throughout the day.