Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty freshman Jesus Ponce battles with a Yosemite defender during Thursday’s North Sequoia League match.
With the losses adding up and the season winding down, the Liberty boys soccer team is looking for signs of improvement.
The Hawks fell to 2-5 in league play on Thursday, losing 3-0 at home against Yosemite-Oakhurst.
“I’m just looking for intensity. Our lack of intensity for this whole game was just way down,” Liberty head coach Leonard Escalante said. “We usually come up with a little more fire, but our lack of intensity just destroyed us.”
Liberty gave up the first goal in the 20th minute, then gave up another score 15 minutes later. Yosemite added the finishing touches with a free kick goal in the second half.
Escalante said it was a lack of communication and a lack of desire to get the ball that led to Yosemite’s goals.
The Hawks had their own chances when they got into the box on a few occasions, but they were unable to finish the job.
Freshman Jesus Ponce had the first opportunity for the Hawks in the ninth minute, but his shot went wide right. Ponce also had an opportunity from inside the box in the 57th minute, but the goalkeeper was able to get a hand on the ball.
In the 10th minute, senior Eric Halverson sent a rocket from about 30 yards out which was saved by the fingertips of the goalkeeper.
“We didn’t finish our opportunities and it just comes back to bite you,” Escalante said.
The Hawks pulled off some close wins in recent weeks, including overtime wins, but Escalante didn’t see a similar type of effort in the loss against Yosemite.
“We have a little bit inconsistency,” Escalante said. “One game we’re on, next game not so much.”
As the Hawks looks to show signs of growth in the last three games of the regular season, Escalante wants the team to focus on details.
“It’s a work in progress for sure,” Escalante said. “I’m looking for just hard work from the start to the 80th minute.”
Ponce echoed his coach’s sentiments, saying the Hawks needs to do a better job of focusing from the start.
“When we’re warming up, we don’t have the intensity to play the game,” Ponce said. “We just need to communicate more and have more intensity and talk.”
Ponce said the Hawks were walking on defense and the other team just wanted it more.
The Hawks will finish regular season with games against Sierra, Kerman and Washington Union. Still, wins aren’t the most important things they will be looking for.
“We just need to try our best, like today, we didn’t try our best,” Ponce said. “We just need to talk more as a team and practice more team bonding and get it along with each other.”
As part of Badge and Veterans Night, Liberty honored veterans and law enforcement before the game and during halftime.
“This is my second year doing it and I think it’s something that we have to do from here on out,” Escalante said. “I feel that the boys need to understand that our first responders are putting their lives on the line and we get to just play this game. We get to do whatever we want to do just because they’re putting their lives on the line.”