Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Brooke Wristen scored the eventual game-winning goal during Saturday’s quarterfinal victory over Madera.
Behind the left foot of Brooke Wristen, the third-seeded Liberty Hawks girls soccer team advanced to the semifinals of the Div. II Central Section championships with a 1-0 victory over the sixth-seeded Madera Coyotes in Memorial Stadium.
Wristen scored eight minutes into the second half and the third-seeded Hawks held off the attacks of Madera’s Itzel Rodriguez and Penelopi Leach in a game rescheduled because of rain.
The game, originally scheduled for Friday evening at Liberty, was moved to Saturday in Memorial Stadium.
“There was no relaxing against Madera,” Liberty head coach Erick Walker said. “They are a great squad. I’ve got nothing but respect for Cameron (Hill, Madera Coyotes girls soccer coach). Even though we beat them, look what they did against the CMAC and those teams. They’ve improved tremendously. I was a little nervous playing them again.”
In a classic one-goal playoff game, both teams had their chances to put the game out of reach, but both of the defenses stepped up to keep their teams in the match.
“We knew it was going to be a good game,” Hill said. “The first game wasn’t an indication of how close the game was. The score line was a little deceptive. I think both teams played well. We had chances. There’s nothing we can do about it. The game is harsh. The game played out kind of how I thought it would, except we didn’t finish our chances.”
Liberty had its first chance in the seventh minute. Morgan Durazo got the ball in front with an open shot, but her shot went to Madera goalkeeper Yesenia Montoya.
Wristen got her first chance in the match two minutes later. She got the ball on the left on a through pass. She had a wide open shot on goal, but shot wide right.
Madera battled back to earn a corner kick in the 14th minute. On the corner, both Rodriguez and Leach had a chance at the ball, but Liberty goalkeeper Carly Tynan made a diving save.
The Coyotes had one of their best chances in the 30th minute. On a free kick from 27 yards out, Rodriguez sent a shot on goal. The ball bounced off the crossbar. Two minutes later, Clarissa Ramos got inside the goalkeeper’s box. She got her chest on the ball and sent it on goal. Tynan made a jumping save going the other way to keep the match scoreless.
Leach had a chance in the 33rd minute. Rodriguez sent her a pass up front, but Tynan got just enough of Leach’s shot to send it out of bounds.
Five minutes into the second half, Liberty had a free kick from about 28 yards out. Holly Strong’s kick to the front was cleared. However, Bailee Mee gathered the rebound and sent a shot on goal, but it went off the crossbar.
Wristen finally broke through in the eighth minute. Sadie Vasquez intercepted a short Madera free kick. She got the ball up front to Wristen. She went to her left and shot across to the right side of the net. The ball went by a diving Montoya for the eventual game-winning goal.
“It was her left foot and she’s been working on that,” Walker said.
Madera earned a free kick at the right corner from 18 yards out. Catherine Hernandez sent a ball in front for Leach, whose shot went to the keeper.
Wristen tried to add to the lead in the 10th minute, but her shot was stopped.
Then, Walker made the move of the match. He moved Wristen back to stopper to fortify the defense.
“I learned from last year against Edison when I kept Brooke up front too much after the goal,” Walker said. “I made the decision to put her in the back when we scored. She’s so calm and alert that you can see everyone else’s confidence lift up.”
“They move Brooke around,” Hill said. “She’s a great player. When she was on top, they were a little more vulnerable in the back, but when she was in the back, they were a little more vulnerable up top. Wherever she’s at, she’s dangerous.”
Madera had another chance in the 25th minute. Mia Perez’s free kick from 25 yards out was cleared out.
Noemi Cabello had a chance for the Coyotes with a shot on goal, but Tynan kept the Coyotes out of the net with a diving save. Madera kept the pressure on Liberty’s defense. The Coyotes got the ball at the top and Mariah Zapata’s shot to the left rolled just wide.
Strong cleared out a Madera free kick in the 38th minute. Cabello had another shot on goal in the 39th minute, but it was blocked out by Mee. Hernandez got the rebound and shot high on goal. Tynan leaped up and tipped the ball over the net for Madera’s last good chance on goal.