With a 2-1 home win against Washington Union on Wednesday, Feb. 6, the Liberty girls soccer team extended its unbeaten streak in league play to 110.
Liberty coach Erick Walker has been nervous many times during the streak, but he was never doubtful when the Panthers scored a late goal Wednesday and gave themselves a chance at an equalizer.
“I think we dominated the game. We sat back for a little bit, but it was nothing that wasn’t easily correctable,” Walker said. “On the goal they scored, our keeper slipped. If she doesn’t slip, I know she catches that ball.”
Liberty scored both of its goals in the first half. Brooke Wristen put away a shot in the 16th minute and Sadie Vasquez added an insurance goal in the 30th minute.
The Hawks’ unbeaten streak in league was threatened in 2016 when they managed a 2-2 draw against Yosemite.
“It was raining and we had a couple of mistakes in the midfield that they got equalizers on,” Walker said.
Walker, who has been with with the team for 59 of the wins in six years, said he gets more and more nervous with each game.
“It’s so hard. When we get to league, I get very nervous,” Walker said. “I’m more nervous for league than preseason games because there’s that tradition and trying to keep that tradition. For each game that we win, it just adds more pressure.”
This season’s run was as dominant as ever. The Hawks won seven league games this season by at least four goals, including an 11-0 win against Chowchilla.
“There is a lot dedication with our 20 girls and we have some great leaders on this team,” Walker said. “We have a couple seniors, a couple juniors, a couple sophomores who are stepping up, even freshmen who are all a part of this.”
Wednesday’s win against Washington Union was the Hawks’ only league win this season that was only decided by one goal.
Walker said the team stays hungry despite many blowout wins, mainly because they don’t want to be the team that breaks a tradition that has gone on for so long.
“You don’t want to be that team where it does happen,” Walker said. “And if it does happen, we will come together and say Okay, now we will restart.’”
With the regular season in the rear view and an 11th straight league title under their belt, the Hawks focus on some unfinished business.
“From the beginning, we have believed that this is a team that can go to Valley and win,” Walker said. “We have some major competition. We got the two Tulare teams, we got Edison ahead who’s No. 1 and they just won CMAC right now.”
Edison took down the Hawks in the semifinals last season.
“We lost to them and that’s the eye on the prize that we got,” Walker said. “We are going to take a couple days off and start focusing again next week on next Monday.”