Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Zoey Richey works the ball from the defensive end to the offensive end during Thursday’s victory over Madera South.
The Liberty Hawks girls soccer team scored in the fifth minute and held off the Madera South Stallions girls soccer team for a 2-0 victory in Memorial Stadium.
Liberty’s 2-0 victory Thursday over the Stallions matched a 2-0 victory Dec. 12 over the Madera Coyotes, giving them the upper hand against Madera schools. Liberty has North Sequoia League matches with Chowchilla and Yosemite-Oakhurst for Madera County bragging rights.
“This is a huge win,” Liberty head coach Erick Walker said. “I have had nothing, but respect for the Madera South girls soccer program for many years. When we were winning Valley Championships, they were, too. It’s just a good win, now that we’re in Div. II and they are in Div. I. It’s good for the morale going into a little break before we regroup next week.”
Alondra Alvarez and Holly Strong each scored goals first half goals for the victory. Sadie Vasquez and Sara Garibay picked up the assists despite playing without top forward Brooke Wristen, who was on a winter vacation with her family.
“We kind of hurt playing last week without Brooke,” Walker said. “For us to work around to find other girls to score is great for us.”
Hawks goalkeeper Carly Tynan caught almost everything that came her way and kept the Stallions off the scoreboard.
The Liberty back line of Zoey Richey, Mattison McCombs and Lauren Alexander kept the Stallions at bay and limited quality scoring chances to long shots.
“Our defense has stepped up,” Walker said. “We have had to adjust the past week. We had to bring some people in. Zoey, Mattison and Lauren have played with each other for so long, they just know each other. We can put one of them in there and there’s no drop off. They play so well together.”
The Stallions were dominated by the Hawks in the first half, but turned the tables in the second half, getting a majority of the chances on goal.
“We played much better in the second half,” Madera South head coach Ramon Delgadillo said. “We changed the way we were playing. I changed a lot of people. There are a lot of things we have to work on. We have to get people to know each other. They haven’t played with each other that long. There’s a lot of difference between our seniors and freshmen. It makes it difficult.”
The Hawks put the pressure on Madera South early. In the fourth minute, Liberty kept the ball in play in front of the Madera South net. Alexander got possession and shot on goal, but the ball sailed high.
A minute later, Alvarez intercepted a Madera South clearing pass. She sent a pass to Garibay and she hit Vasquez on the right. Vasquez touched the ball back to Alvarez on the left, who sent a shot off the right post and into the back of the net for the goal.
The Stallions had a chance on goal in the 19th minute. Arianna Gallegos beat her defender on the right and crossed the ball, but there wasn’t a Stallion to hit the follow.
The Hawks added an insurance goal five minutes later. Strong fed the ball up front to Garibay. She passed the ball back to Strong. Strong dribbled twice and sent a high shot on goal that went over the head of goalkeeper Makaya Martinez and under the crossbar into the net for a 2-0 lead.
“I don’t know, for some reason, they were playing from behind,” Delgadillo said. “We were giving them 40 yards in space so they were able to settle and create. After that, in the second half, we closed the gaps and had a lot of opportunities.
In the second half, Madera South’s Rachel Ramirez had a shot on goal on the left, but the ball rolled wide right.
Three minutes later, the Hawks got a free kick, but Strong’s 30-yard shot on goal was caught by Martinez.
Madera South got a chance on the left, but Tynan caught Ramirez’s angle shot.
Midway through the second half, Madera South sent a quick shot on goal after a throw in. The ball went off Tynan, but Richey was there to kick the ball out of bounds.
Madera South had another shot on the right side in the 28th minute. Nayeli Garcia got a step in front of her defender and shot for the near post, but Tynan made the catch.
With five minutes left in the match, Madera South’s 35-yard fee kick on goal was easily caught by Tynan for the Stallions’ last chance for a goal.