Liberty soccer men sock Pioneers

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Rucker Shipp posts hat trick

By Mike Forster

  The Liberty boys soccer team turned in its best performance of the Eric Seckman era.

The first-year head coach of the Minutemen saw his charges come to life in the second half, en route to a 6-2 pasting of visiting Heritage.

"They met the challenge," said Seckman, of his charges.  "Most importantly, they finished their opportunities."

Indeed, after playing to a scoreless tie in the first half, the Minutemen switched a few things around and pounded the resulting opportunities.

The Liberty scoring parade was led by a pair of athletes who are well regarded beyond the soccer pitch.  Rucker Shipp, who is a fine hoopster for Liberty, picked up the hat trick.  Hunter Patterson, a solid performer on the football field, earned a pair of goals.

Shipp is used to scoring on the hardwoods.  Patterson, who is a lineman on the gridiron, rarely gets to experience the thrill of scoring in football.

Both looked like pure soccer players against Rustburg.  For example, Shipp's second goal came on a throw-in from Matthew Thompson.  He took the toss, deftly applied two great touches and added a poised finish for the tally.

Patterson's second goal came about when he outhustled and outmuscled the scrum following a Matt Sampson direct kick attempt.  Patterson leaped over the madding crowd to head the ball in for the tally.

Thompson helped with Liberty's second goal of the match when Rucker played the ball to him in the box.  The big guy was struck down by a Heritage defender and Sterling Merrill nailed the subsequent penalty kick.

Merrill, by the way, helped lead a Liberty defense that was, well, sterling.  He and Tristan Harrison anchored a back line that was augmented by fine play from Austin Roney and Ryan Rodes on the flanks.

Between the pipes, Shane Sellers turned in a fine performance.  Sellers had a couple of nice saves in the first half which kept the M-Men in the hunt up to the break.  

Subsequently, the M-Men played to a 2-2 draw at Rustburg.  Thompson and Merrill provided the offensive fireworks for Liberty, while Sellers had a baker's dozen saves in goal.

As a result of the week's festivities, the Minutemen moved into a tie with Rustburg for fifth place in the Seminole standings.  Each of the teams stands at 2-5-1.

Rustburg holds the tie-breaker advantage, however, having beaten the Minutemen in the first game of district play before this week's tie.

That tie-breaker could very well be a key and may spell the difference between opening the district tourney against an Amherst rather than a Brookville.

Still, with the Minutemen having broken their scoring dry spell, that tie-breaker may not come into play at all.