Benny Munoz/The Madera Tribune
Liberty sweeper Jaime Lewis tries the settle down while playing on the offensive end during Monday’s 8-0 victory over Washington Union.
A couple of weeks ago, the Yosemite-Oakhurst Badgers tied the Liberty Hawks girls soccer team, ending the team’s 82 match North Sequoia League winning streak.
Ever since then, the return game has been circled on the Liberty calendar. The Hawks sent a message to the rest of the Div. III playoff field with a 7-0 rout of Yosemite on Friday. Liberty came back on Monday with an 8-0 whitewashing of the Washington Union-Easton Panthers on Senior Night to extend its NSL unbeaten streak to 89 matches.
“It makes a really big statement because we’re showing that we’re one of the best teams,” senior Raina Wristen said. “It shows we can come back from a bad game and know how to come back and step it up when we need to.”
“It’s a big statement,” head coach Erick Walker said. “We had a little hiccup against Yosemite. After that game, we looked to see when we were going to be playing them again. There was an eye on the prize for that one. We started working harder and wanted to make a statement for the rest of the year. There were a lot of seniors and upperclassmen that took it personal. There was a little meeting afterwards to refocus and get ready for our comeback and it worked.”
Wristen led the Hawks with a hat trick (three goals) Monday after recording one against Yosemite three days earlier. She has scored eight goals in her last three games.
“It makes it more memorable for me since it was one of my last game and celebrated for the seniors,” Wristen said. “I wanted to represent all of the seniors, even those who couldn’t play tonight.”
With one game remaining on their schedule, the Hawks look forward to the Div. III playoffs to defend their back-to-back Valley Championship.
“We are definitely getting strong,” Wristen said. “I feel like that tie against Yosemite made us actually realize we need to step it up a lot more than we were playing. I feel like that game made us go above and beyond.”
“These two wins makes a statement, but at the same time, our league is one of the lowest,” Walker said. “The other teams better be looking out because they thought we were down, but we’re not. Having almost our full team and play girls in their normal position has been huge for us.”
Wristen’s sophomore sister, Brooke, got the scoring started in the fourth minute, but it was Raina that set it up. She sent a shot on goal and the ball hit off the post, but Brooke was right there for the follow and put the ball into the back of the net.
Liberty added another goal in the 23rd minute. Holly Strong sent a free kick from about 30 yards on the left side across the face of the goal in front. Raina Wristen beat Washington Union defenders and touched the ball inside the right post for a 2-0 lead.
Five minutes later, Wristen dribbled by two defenders and cut inside another inside the goalkeeper’s box. She sent a shot on goal, but it clanged off the crossbar. Brooke Wristen was there for the rebound, but her shot was caught by the busy Washington goalkeeper.
Liberty added to its lead in the 30th minute. Morgan Durazo got the ball in the middle of the field and sent a pass to the left to Strong. Strong then executed a perfect give-and-go, sending the pass back to Durazo, who settled the ball and sent a shot inside the left post past the diving goalkeeper.
In the final minute of the first half, the Panthers were called for a hand ball and Liberty had a free kick just outside the goalkeeper’s box. Strong touched the ball back to Raina Wristen. She dribbled once to her right and sent a shot through the Panthers’ wall inside the right post for a 4-0 halftime lead.
The Hawks scored in the 12th minute of the second half when Sadie Vasquez dribbled the ball on the right and sent a cross back to the middle of the field. Wristen was waiting for the pass and shot just under the crossbar for the goal.
Strong, with three assists, got a goal in the 28th minute. She dribbled the ball past three defenders and shot past the goalkeeper for a 6-0 lead.
Wristen, who was playing defense, went up the field for a corner kick in the 35th minute. She sent the ball over the goalkeeper and Durazo was right there to touch the ball into the back of the net.
While Wristen was playing defense, sweeper Jamie Lewis was sent up front to try to score a goal on her senior night. She didn’t get the goal, but set up one for freshman Sophia Napier. Lewis got the ball in front and dribbled into the box. She tried to shoot on goal, but mishit the ball. The ball went directly right to Napier, who shot into an open net for the final 8-0 score.