Hawks earn tie on the road at Fresno Christian
Fresh off a Co-League Championship in 2020-21, the Liberty Hawks girls soccer team continues its preseason tour after a 1-1 overtime draw against Fresno Christian away from home.
Although the Hawks walked away with a draw, the effort on the pitch was well worth a victory. After back-to-back nights that went into overtime, the Hawks showed the grit and toughness that has been synonymous with the team over head coach Eric Walker’s tenure.
“There is something about playing at nighttime that just brings out a whole different atmosphere and vibe. I think it rose the intensity up,” Walker said. “Our confidence grew, especially after Highland and we started to play much better. After we got that goal at the end of the first half at Highland we kept that intensity and then coming over into the next game, we are finally starting to see who we can place in certain positions and who we can rely on.”
Fresno Christian’s field is much smaller than what the Hawks are accustomed to, but the team battled throughout the 100 minutes of play.
“It was interesting that dynamic,” Walker said. “The girls were stepping up and the game was moving fast back and forth. It was good to see the girls getting in there and playing and I feel like we dominated most of the game. They had opportunities, but we controlled the game for the most part, we just couldn’t finish anything.”
Liberty’s Marissa Lopez starred on the night with a game-tying goal in the second half to force overtime. Kinsey McIntosh found Lopez on a run and banged in the game-tying goal.
“Marissa played in the middle on Tuesday and we played her up top on Wednesday and we saw good things, obviously with the goal. She is someone we can kind of rely on and make something happen,” Walker said. “She also has a great repertoire with Kinsy. They work very well together as far as playing off each other and looking for each other with those passes.”
Liberty goalkeeper Emily Boatwright played the full match plus overtime, coming up with big saves throughout.
Not only was Boatwright exceptional between the sticks parrying away Fresno Christian shots, but her leadership and communication with her teammates was key as Liberty nearly walked away with a victory.
“She defiantly stepped into some shoes and there is a confidence growing back there and we weren’t sure what our goalkeeper position was going to look like this year and she’s stepped up and the girls are seeing the value that she brings,” Walker said. “They trust her back there.”
After the overtime draw, the Liberty Hawks set their sights on a tough non-conference schedule. By design, the Hawks will play Clovis East, Edison, Memorial, Clovis West and Madera among others before undertaking the last NSL league season as next season the Hawks will be playing in a new league.
“We schedule our games against big teams and we want our girls to step up. Our goal is to do well and we expect that to carry over into league as well. We have seen Kerman step up the last few years and this is the last year of the NSL,” Walker said. “We want to go out as champions but it is designed to make us work harder.”
As winners of the NSL 12 times and Valley Champions six times, the Hawks are looking to add to that total.