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Liberty unable to complete three-peat

TULARE — The Liberty Hawks girls soccer team’s quest for a third straight Div. III Valley Championship came to an end after the Mission Oak-Tulare Hawks capitalized on a strong first half putting three goals on the board to beat Liberty, 4-0.


“We anticipated them being really quick, but we committed a few mental mistakes in the first half,” Liberty head coach Eric Walker said. “It was one thing after another and they capitalized on that. Hats off to them. They are a great team.”


Mission Oak dominated Friday night from the start of the first half to the tune of three goals. The home team used a combination of accurate finishing and speed to cause Liberty trouble all night. 
With injuries all year, the Liberty Hawks fought through adversity to get to the championship game.


“We’ve had a great season,” Walker said. “These girls have been resilient, they fought and people wrote them off and they kept fighting. We’ll be back.”


Liberty went down in the 19th minute after the Mission Oak forward capitalized on poor defending. The scoring would continue in the 21st minute after Mission Oak scored again to make it 2-0.


The game was pushed out of reach after the Mission Oak forward scored again to make it 3-0 with 15 minutes left to play in the first half.


The second half was more of the same after the Mission Oak defense shut down the defending champions. Raina Wristen provided the only threat in the game after she looked for teammates and nearly scored herself towards the end of the second half.


Wristen nearly set up a goal after she crossed the ball from the right wing into the box but the ball was cleared by the opposing defender.


Although Liberty showed moments of inspiration in the second half, the ball never hit the back of the net sending Mission Oaks to the Central Section Division III championship.