Liberty girls soccer player Holly Strong is used to scoring with dazzling free kicks. The senior, who has been doing it since she was a freshman, put on her latest display against the Madera Coyotes.
Strong’s two goals, including a long-range shot from a set piece, led Liberty to a 3-1 win against the Coyotes on Dec. 11 in Memorial Stadium.
“When I played club ball no one really thought I could kick, so when I came here they were like, ‘Wow this girl can kick,’” Strong said.
Liberty girls soccer coach Erick Walker said it’s time people start paying attention to Strong.
“If people don’t know about her and her dead-ball shots, they’re not paying attention to us,” Walker said. “She has been doing it since she was a freshman. With her being a senior and doing what she’s doing, she’s not being recognized by the coaches, unfortunately. They should learn this by now.”
With the two goals from Strong and a third by Sara Garibay, the Hawks’ win against Madera gave them their second-straight win. Before that, the Hawks lost three in a row.
“As a team, it was a better performance,” Strong said. “As a player too, it was one of my better games this season so far.”
Strong’s second goal against Madera came after a slight miscommunication on the free kick.
“The second goal was unplanned because my friend [Brooke Wristen] touched it,” Strong said. “She switched at the last second. I didn’t know what she was doing, so it was kind of confusing. It was exciting.”
The Hawks have been looking for consistency all season. The team started the season with two straight wins, then lost three in a row before winning back-to-back games.
“We had a rough start because we lost a couple of main players from last year,” Strong said. “This was one of our first games where we’re kind of getting better. I think we can only get better. I’m really excited to see what we’re going to do this season.”
The Coyotes suffered their fourth-straight defeat with the loss against the Hawks. Senior Itzel Rodriguez scored the Coyotes’ only goal in the first half. With the Hawks tightening the defense in the second half, the Coyotes found it even more difficult to get chances.
“In the second half, we wanted to make sure we didn’t lose focus of what we needed to do,” Walker said. “When we’re ahead, I’m not gonna try to risk anything.”
Madera head coach Cameron Hill said silly mistakes hurt his team.
“Defensively we have to be more solid in the back and not give away opportunities when we don’t need to,” Hill said. “It’s a long season and we’re still a team and we still have players that can make a difference.”