Second half surge lifts Hawks to win
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty freshman Leigha Whaley controls the ball from a Washington Union defender. She scored the Hawks’ first goal in Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over the Panthers.
The Liberty Hawks got an early goal and put the match away with a pair of second half goals for a North Sequoia Leauge victory over the Washington Union-Easton Panthers at Liberty.
Freshman Leigha Whaley scored in the fifth minute and Kinsey McIntosh added an insurance goal 50 minutes later.
The Hawks played the first half of the first half with 10 players on the pitch, instead of the usual 11.
“We had 10 girls at practice,” head coach Erick Walker said. “Our rule is if you miss a training before a game, whoever is there at practice is who was going to play. We only had 10 so that’s who we started with.”
However, Whaley’s early goal allowed the 10 on the field to relax a little before the reinforcements came later in the half and into the second half.
“It was good to get that early goal,” Walker said. “For some reason, when teams play with less players, they seem to play a little harder. To get that goal early really helped. As the game went on, we started adding players and kept momentum.”
The Hawks kept the pressure on the Washington Union goal for most of the game, but had trouble with that last touch until the final 20 minutes of the match.
“We kind of hold onto the ball too much,” Walker said. “If we can play with less touch, it will be a huge advantage for us. We switched things up with formations in the second half. We went with a formation we know works really well for us. We started playing that formation, we started getting pressure and played well.”
In the fifth minute, off a throw-in, the ball went by a defender to the middle. Whaley was there to beat the keeper to the bottom right corner of the goal for the early lead.
The Hawks couldn’t get a good shot on goal for more than 30 minutes.
Off a corner kick from McIntosh, Hailey Bugg tried a header, but the pass was just too high and was caught by the Panthers’ keeper.
In the 30th minute, the Panthers had a breakaway, but the Panthers didn’t get a good shot on goal and Liberty goalkeeper Emily Boatwright made the easy save.
In the 36th minute, McIntosh had a free kick on the right near the corner kick pole. She sent the ball to the front of the goal. Danielle Hess tried a header, but it went outside the near post and out of bounds.
Just before the end of the first half, Hailey Forrest tried a 35-yard free kick. The ball went to the front and it was knocked out of bounds by the Panthers’ defense.
The Hawks kept the pressure going in the second half.
In the second minute, McIntosh got the ball in front, but her 20-yard shot went over the goal.
Two minutes later, Ashley Torres got the ball on the left and sent a pass to the middle. McIntosh got to the ball, but shot wide left.
In the eighth minute, Whaley got the ball on the left in front of a defender, but her shot went wide of the far post.
Off a cross, Whaley got the ball on the left in the 19th minute, but her shot was blocked out of bounds.
Pressure kept coming for the Hawks. Off the ensuing corner kick, Devinne Moncaca sent a pass to Marissa Lopez, who passed to McIntosh, whose angle shot was wide of the far post.
Whaley got a ball in front of a defender and was looking to cross the ball to the middle. The Panthers’ defender pushed her in the back, which drew a foul and a penalty kick. McIntosh took the penalty kick and found the bottom left corner just beyond the Panthers’ goalkeeper for a 2-0 lead in the 15th minute.
Nine minutes later, McIntosh stole the ball from the Panthers and was taken out from behind. Moncada’s 20-yard free kick went wide of the far post.
Bugg sent a fly ball to the front of the goal, but the ball was caught before Hess or Whaley could get a head on it.
Finally, the Hawks added to their lead. McIntosh, again, stole the ball from the Panthers. She settled the ball and sent a 25-yard shot on the right that went by the goalkeeper inside the near post for a 3-0 lead to secure the victory.