Liberty’s Angelica Ponce sends a free kick up the field. She scored the only goal in Wednesday’s victory over the Madera Coyotes in Memorial Stadium.
Angelica Ponce’s first half goal lifted the Liberty Hawks girls soccer team to a 1-0 road win against Madera.
The senior launched a shot from about 25 yards out and celebrated with her teammates as the ball sailed over the goalkeeper before finding the net in Wednesday’s victory. The game was originally scheduled to be played at Liberty, but was moved to Memorial Stadium because of the rain.
It was a memorable moment for Ponce, who has overcome injuries to regain her form.
“She has definitely stepped up this year,” Liberty head coach Erick Walker said. “She has had some injuries, but to have her hit that was pretty good for her self-confidence and great for us.”
Madera had its first chance to score on a free kick in the seventh minute. However, Liberty goalkeeper Carly Tynan made a diving save to stop the shot from Mariah Zapata. The Coyotes followed up the free kick with a corner kick, which came up empty.
After Liberty came up empty on a corner kick in the 32nd minute, Ponce came back a minute later with the goal that would be the difference in the game.
Madera’s Evangelina Garcia took a free kick in the final minutes of the first half, which went wide, sending the teams to the break with a 1-0 score.
The Coyotes came out attacking in the second half. Penelopi Leach, who led a more energized second half effort by Madera, took a shot in the 42nd minute which went straight to the goalkeeper. Leach found another opportunity in the 44th minute when she took a shot from close range after a mad scramble in the box. Her shot, however, flew over the bar.
Madera head coach Cameron Hill is used to seeing maximum effort from Leach.
“This is her fourth year on varsity, so it’s expected from her,” Hill said. “As long as she keeps it up, she’ll get some goals and we’ll be fine.”
Madera’s Alexya Lugo-Sulca took a shot from the right wing in the 47th minute, which was saved by Tynan. Three minutes later, Garcia took another free kick which went wide, still keeping the Coyotes scoreless.
“We played a lot better in the second half,” Hill said. “We were unfortunate not to get a goal.”
In the 53rd minute, Zapata tried a long range shot, but it was high. As the Coyotes continued to attack, Leach crossed from the right wing in the 56th minute and found Sheyla Posos, who had her shot blocked in front of the goal.
“Madera is a great team. I like playing them, but I hate playing them at the same time. They never quit. They make a sub and there’s no drop off whatsoever,” Walker said. “We always have to be on our toes. They play so fast. It’s nice to watch as a spectator, but as a coach, it makes me nervous.”
Madera desperately scrambled for one more opportunity in the final minutes, but the Hawks cleared the danger each time and the clock finally ran out on the Coyotes.
“Our defense has really been keeping us in games,” Walker said. “They have played together for two, three years now pretty consistently. It’s good right now with what we see.”