Liberty soccer lasses start season a'fire

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Top Rusties, E.C. Glass

By Mike Forster



Perhaps a mystery has been solved.

One of the things that has been confounding about the Liberty girls soccer team has been its inability to post large-margin victories at Rustburg.

Liberty always seems to get the win, but scores of 2-0 or 1-0 have been the norm.  Blame it on the Red Devil field's crown.  Blame it on the turf's drainage.

Well, there was nothing to complain about last Thursday, as the Lady Minutemen ran roughshod over any notions of a low-scoring tilt.  Led by goal scoring machine Laura Garbarini, the Lady Minutemen rang up an 8-0 win.

The senior sensation was good for four tallies in this one, treating the Rustburg defense as though it were her private shooting gallery.

But, lest you think this was a one-player game, think again.  The win was more of a team effort.  In fact, the game's first goal was netted by midfielder Audrey McCombs, who struck eight minutes into the match.

Garbarini then reeled off three goals in the span of a dozen minutes.  That's a goal every four minutes, for you math types!

Before the half was over, McCombs (again), Sam Venable and Lizzie Boone had each tallied additional goals for the Lady Minutemen.

Garbarini added the final goal in the second half, scoring on a penalty kick.

"Our midfield really won the game for us," said Liberty Head Coach Jeff Steele. "We were able to stifle most Rustburg attacks, and the girls did a great job maintaining possession throughout the game. Our goals were all from a team possession standpoint;  we were able to move the ball deliberately forward into positions from which we could shoot and score."

Of particular note on the midfield was the play of Grace Parker, Hannah Overstreet, and Destiny Barrett, who controlled the center of the midfield throughout the contest.

On the backline, Boone and Andrea Scruggs seemed to really help spark the Liberty offense as it transitioned from defense to attack mode.

They also helped keep things light for keeper Jillian Blackburn, who successfully faced down a pair of shots.


Big stunner

It's one thing to beat a nice respectable team such as Rustburg.

It's another thing to beat such a team by as wide a margin as did the Lady Minutemen.

It's something completely different, however, to beat a member of soccer royalty.

That's exactly what Liberty did on Monday evening.

Showing that its big win over Rustburg was no fluke, the Lady Minutemen employed exceptional defense in shutting down what has historically been one of the strongest teams in the area.  The Hilltoppers are a common presence deep in the playoff season.

Well, against Liberty, it was the gals in red, white and blue who were the major presence.  The homestanding Liberty ladies took a 2-1 win to improve their Seminole record to 2-0.

Once again, it was Garbarini who supplied the offensive fireworks.  The senior showed that she's going to make a run at repeating as the Seminole District Player of the Year, as she nailed both of Liberty's goals, giving her team a 2-0 lead early in the second half.

The Hilltoppers struck back, their goal coming off a deflection as Liberty attempted to clear its zone.  But the Lady Minutemen were able to hang on for the win.

Lauren Morgan, pressed into duty between the pipes, came up with a huge game.  She stopped 14 of the 15 shots she faced.  Meanwhile, Liberty was economical in its shot selection, as the team managed a total of four blasts at Hilltopper keeper Hannah Royer.

Coach Steel took a pragmatic view of the game, noting he still saw room for improvement.  "We played solid, organized defense and we made the most of our opportunities," he said.  "We stressed going into the game playing soccer our way and staying within ourselves; not changing because of the opponent...We went into the game believing in ourselves and it paid off."

Yes, Coach.  It paid off in a big way.