The Liberty Bell High School boys’ soccer team dropped their third consecutive match at home Tuesday (April 26) to the Oroville Hornets, 5-1, before taking out the Tonasket Tigers later in the week.
Oroville controlled play through most of the game, taking advantage of three close in shots for a 3-1 lead at halftime. Liberty Bell’s lone tally came off the foot of Arlen Crum, a guided missile from about 15 meters out in front of the goal. Crum found the ball teed up in front of him and launched it into the back of the net, just beyond the outstretched hands of the Hornet net minder.
Oroville added two second-half goals to close out the 5-1 victory, breaking a tie for sixth place in the eight-team league, jumping ahead of the Mountain Lions by a game in the NCW2B standings.
It was evident after three straight losses to Manson, Oroville and Okanogan that the local boys were being outmuscled on the field. The coaching staff went to work training the team toward a more physical style of attacking defense and protecting the ball on offense.
Thursday (April 28) saw an about-face for Liberty Bell in a 3-1 defeat of the Tonasket Tigers. Coach Dave Marz also noticed a style change.
“We played much better today,” he said. “We were more physical and got called for some fouls. We’ve been working on a more aggressive, physical style of play. It paid off today.”
Controlled ball movement with accurate passing, accompanied by skilled footwork on the dribble allowed for the locals to apply pressure on the Tonasket goalkeeper. When the Tigers were able to make a rush on the Liberty Bell goal, good hustle by defenders, and solid goalkeeping by eighth-grader Alex Ramsey-George, kept Tonasket at bay.
The Mountain Lions hit for two first-half goals, the first coming just short of 15 minutes into the contest. Crum let loose with an open shot only to hit the crossbar and ricochet back to Ben Kaufman, who loaded and fired a rocket past the Tiger goal keeper for the 1-0 Liberty Bell lead.
Tonasket responded with the equalizer at 22:10. Ramsay-George repelled a Tiger barrage at the 25:00 mark in the first half with two great saves. Five minutes later Jayden Hammer lobbed a close-in shot for the go-ahead score, sending the teams to the halftime break with Liberty Bell up 2-1.
The Mountain Lions continued to control the tempo and tone of the match with more solid defensive play and a balanced, disciplined and assertive attack on the offensive end. Hammer, senior Kieran Quigley, Finn Simmons and Aidan Sands all had solid shots on goal that were turned away.
With about 9 minutes remaining, Sands and Kaufman teamed up on what might be the highlight goal of the year. Sands managed to coax a Tonasket defender into deflecting a ball out over the goal line near the southwest corner of the pitch, resulting in a corner kick for the home team. The first attempt was deflected out and Sands lined up for his second attempt from the flag. This time, he lifted the shot across the front of the goal to the awaiting Kaufman, who, with a twitch of the head, redirected the ball into the net for the score and the match-clinching tally and 3-1 victory.
“We practice that play a lot,” said Sands. “I aimed for a spot about 6 feet out from the goal and hit it. Ben was there and made the play.”
“It feels great,” Kaufman smiled, when asked about that second goal. “It was a great corner by Aidan and I just hit it.” Marz confirmed that the goal was one of the best he has seen. “They made a great play,” he said.
The win snapped a three game losing streak and improved the season record to 4-8 in league play, lifting the Lions back into a tie for the sixth spot.
The Brewster Bears came into the Methow Valley on Saturday (April 30) as the second-place team at 8-4 in the NCWB standings, one of those wins being a previous 6-0 romp over the Mountain Lions on April 13.
The local lads played a disciplined, ball-control offense that offered few scoring opportunities for Brewster through most of the first half. Still, the Bears managed a 2-0 first-half lead. It was with less than two minutes remaining that Ben Kaufman would break the ice for Liberty Bell, legging a shot from the left side of the goal for the tally and a 2-1 halftime deficit.
Kaufman tied the game at two goals apiece with a rebound shot from close in front of the Brewster goal at 58:45. It was Kaufman’s second consecutive two-goal match. But Brewster responded with a shot past Ramsay-George with 7:48 remaining to score the game-winner for Brewster.
Liberty Bell closes out the regular season Wednesday (May 4), a Senior Day recognition date with Pateros, kickoff at 4:30 p.m.
Liberty Bell swept Friday’s double-header with Lake Roosevelt, 6-4, 4-1, and took full control of second place in the NCW2B League standings as they begin to look toward the upcoming District 6 playoffs.
The first game of the rare afternoon/evening twin bill had freshman pitcher Damon Alumbaugh take the mound for the Mountain Lions while the Raiders countered with their top gun Tanner Kiser. Raider batters tagged Alumbaugh with four runs on five hits in the first inning, all earned without the benefit of an error on the part of Liberty Bell fielding, a bugaboo for the local boys this season.
“I went into the dugout and just thought I had to put it behind us, Alumbaugh said. “Our response that inning helped a lot,” referencing the three runs Mountain Lion hitters posted in the bottom of the opening frame.
Sawyer Crandall led off that inning with a four-pitch walk, Lucien Paz lined a single sharply to left field and Noah Holston was issued a free pass. Alumbaugh approached the plate with the bases loaded and was drilled in the back by Kiser on the first pitch, forcing in Crandall and crediting the Mountain Lion pitcher with the initial RBI. Eli Neitlich struck out, the elder Paz was forced out at home on a ground ball to first base by David Kominak, then Holston and Alumbaugh both scored on a single by Remy Paz and fielding error in center field. The younger Paz was forced at second on a ground ball by Grey Patterson and the Lions had jumped back into the game, down just 4-3 after the first inning.
Alumbaugh then completely shut down the Raider bats, allowing only two more hits while striking out four in the final six innings. The Mountain Lion defense also came up big, highlighted by Alumbaugh’s defensive play of the day, a line that hit the freshman pitcher’s leg and ricocheted toward third base. Alumbaugh chased the ball down, turned and fired a bullseye to first baseman David Kominak for the out by a half-step.
Liberty Bell tied the game in the second inning, Crandall crossing the plate on an RBI ground-out to first by Holston. The Mountain Lions took the lead in the sixth, Remi Paz scoring on a Grey Patterson single to center field, exacerbated by a fielding error. Patterson wound up on third and scored on Mac Surface’s RBI ground-out to shortstop to close out the scoring.
In the seventh, Lake Roosevelt sent six batters to the plate, loading the bases with one out but Alumbaugh enticed two straight pop-ups to finish things out.
In the second game, David Kominak returned to the mound for the first time in about a month to earn a complete game, 4-1 win over the Raiders. The senior southpaw had been resting a sore left arm, injured in an early season game.
“He was sharp, said Liberty Bell coach David Aspholm, “painting the corners and keeping hitters off balance.” Kominak gave up only three hits in his seven innings of work.
The Mountain Lions have one last home date, a first round District Playoff game, tentatively on Thursday, May 12, with the time and opponent yet to be determined.
The Mountain Lion racqueteers hosted the Oroville Hornets at Liberty Bell’s home courts on Tuesday (April 26). Liberty Bell’s No. 1 boys pair of Connor Herlihy and Gannet Fisher had to face arguably the top doubles pair in the NCWB League in Jasper Bernell and Noah Hilderbrand and. While there were some good rallies and the Mountain Lion duo fought admirably, they were simply overpowered by the bigger, stronger and experienced Hornets, 6-0, 6-1.
“Seems like our matches this year are pretty non-competitive. Either we [Herlihy and Fisher] win big or lose big. We haven’t had any close ones,” said Herlihy, a junior.
In the other varsity doubles match, Oroville’s David Johnson and Trevor Miller defeated Liberty Bell’s No. 2 team of Gavin Blank and Connor Gonzales, 6-1, 6-3. EZ Kirk defeated Paul Fuchs (6-1, 2-6, 6-1) in the boys’ varsity No. 1 singles match. Haizea Alvarez-Murua defeated Araceli Esquivel 6-0, 6-1 in girls varsity No. 1. Angel Arrellano and Nathan Buck each won their varsity boys matches, as did Amelia Evans and Sophia Newton for the girls’ varsity.
The Mountain Lions traveled to Entiat on Thursday for a three-way match with the Tigers and Soap Lake Eagles. It was another good day for the netters. The teams played only doubles matches in pro-set format, Liberty Bell taking six of their seven matches.
On Friday, Liberty Bell tripped over the Loup for their third match in four days to take on the Omak Pioneers. Kirk, Arellano and Buck swept the boys’ singles side of the ledger while Avarez-Murua and Austrian transfer Amelie Stracke both won on the girls’ singles docket. Amelia Evans battled hard, dropping a tough 6-4, 6-4 decision to Olivia Nguyen.
The boys’ doubles teams of Herlihy-Blank and Malcom Bosco/Connor Gonzales suffered defeats as did the mixed-doubles teams of Stracke/Bela Moore. Newton and Blank teamed up to battle Marissa Grillo and Grace Worden, the Pioneer pair taking a 2-1 match win after winning a third set tie breaker.
The Mountain Lion softball team had a tough week, being swept on the road by the Brewster Bears, 12-0 and 12-1, and dropping both ends of a home double-header Friday to Lake Roosevelt, 13-1 and 7-0. Action picks up again this Thursday (May 5) with a 3 p.m. double-header at home versus Bridgeport and a trip to Tonasket on Saturday (May 7)for a single game with playoff implications.
Track and field
Kyler Mitchell set personal records in the 200- and 400-meter runs, finishing 2nd and 1st, respectively, and Fischer Edwards won the javelin throw at the Tonasket Small School Invite on April 26. Leki Albirght set a new mark in the 800M, winning that event and also winning the 1,600M on the girls’ side of the Tonasket meet.
At the Rieke Invitational on Friday at Cascade, Dexter Delaney took first place in the 1,600M while Will Halpin and Aksel Thomson swept the top two spots in the 3,200M, both setting personal records. Isaiah Stoothoff set a season best mark in the high jump, clearing 5 feet, 10 inches on his way to victory. Edwards set a new PR with a 137-foot throw in the javelin, good for 2nd place. Sandra Hernandez set PRs in the 200M (7th; 29.85) and 400M (5th; 1:05.89).
The Bridgeport Invite is on the schedule for this Friday, followed on Wednesday (May 11) by the CWB League Championships at Liberty Bell. First events get underway at 4 p.m. at Mountain Lion Stadium.