Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty’s Sevin Moreno tries to set up her teammates during Thursday’s North Sequoia League loss to the Yosemite Badgers.
A 111-match unbeaten streak in the North Sequoia League finally ended for the Liberty girls soccer team.
The streak stopped with a 2-1 home loss against Yosemite on Thursday.
“That winning streak was big. But how we respond is the biggest thing,” Liberty head coach Erick Walker said. “I’m confident that our team will bounce back. That tradition of undefeated in league — traditions are supposed to be broken.”
Walker took over the Hawks about midway through the streak. Thursday’s loss marked the first blemish since the Hawks joined the NSL more than 10 years ago. During the 10 year span, the Hawks won 110 of 111 matches. The only other blemish was a tie to Yosemite three years ago.
The Hawks found themselves down 1-0 in the 23rd minute after giving up a breakaway goal.
After failing to convert a couple of free kicks, Liberty stared at a 1-0 deficit going to halftime.
The Hawks’ unbeaten streak appeared to be in serious trouble when Yosemite took a 2-0 lead in the 50th minute.
But Liberty put together one last desperate push in the final minutes. Their efforts paid off in the 76th minute when Jayden Woolley took a shot from the top of the box and curved the ball into the left corner.
Still, the Hawks failed to find the equalizer before the final whistle.
“Our team played a great game. I think we just made two simple mistakes and they capitalized on them. We’ll bounce back,” Walker said. “We created more shooting opportunities. They just capitalized on their chances. We didn’t.”
Walker said the team had already won about 50-straight league games when he took over as head coach. Since then, he has felt the pressure of keeping the streak alive.
“We’ve had that target on our back for hundred-something games,” he said. “I’m okay with that target. It shows that we are at a certain level.”
Yosemite has been threatening to end the Hawks’ streak through the years.
“They tied us three years ago and that hurt,” Walker said. “Then we played them again, we beat them. That’s the motivation we’re gonna use for this as well.”
Now that the streak is over, Walker is looking on the bright said.
“I’m more stressed out during league games than any other game because that’s tradition. All those girls that played before, you’re trying to honor what they did,” he said. “It has been very stressful. Now that we’ve had this loss, maybe we needed that.”