Although the Liberty Hawks boys soccer team fought throughout the match, they couldn’t overcome the McLane-Fresno Highlanders aggressive style in a 3-0 non-conference loss at home.
“It’s a young team right now and we’re not understanding what the other person should be doing and that takes communication,” Liberty head coach Leonard Escalante said. “If they don’t know where each other are going, it makes it tough. They need to communicate.
“Our effort was 100 percent better than the first two games. We touched the ball well at points, the ball didn’t go our way a couple times, but we’re getting better.”
In three games so far this season, the Hawks have yet to score a goal and against the Highlanders, chancers were hard to come by.
McLane relied on not only skillful passing, but tenacious defending when the visitors were without the ball.
Gabriel Diaz was crucial to the Highlanders’ success.Whether it was cleverly flicking the ball over his defenders or knocking the ball past them for his teammates, Diaz came to play – not to mention his deciding goals in the match.
The Highlanders effort rewarded them three goals, but it could’ve been a lot more if not for freshman goalkeeper Noah Clark. Clark made numerous saves in the first half to preserve a 1-0 halftime deficit.
With a lack of communication in defense, Clark had to rely on his instincts and that’s exactly what he did. In the first half, Clark showed courage to stay rooted to his line to deny a point-blank shot by the Highlanders. Even though he faced more attackers than he saw defenders at times, the freshman showed maturity in the net, keeping the Hawks in the game.
“He’s still got a lot to learn about this level because it’s a little bit different, but he has it — he made some good saves,” Escalante said.
In terms of offensive production, the Hawks have yet to score a goal this season, but their effort towards the end of the game showed a team willing to put in the dirty work to put one in the back of the net.