The Lions were definitely not feeling merciful in their final regular season game, as they announced in the game’s first 25 seconds, when Liberty’s Yessy Martinez scored on a difficult kick from the left sideline. That early score and a multi-pronged offense kept the Falcons back on their heels for much of the match, which Liberty won 3-0.
Freedom goalies Aubrey Ocampo and Jessica Deno literally had their hands full as they ran, leapt and stretched to snare the many balls headed toward their net. They made seven saves on the night, but couldn’t stop everything.
Thirty-four minutes into the first half, Liberty’s Mikayla Farber scored on a breakaway to provide a comfortable two-goal lead at the half. The closest Freedom came to scoring in that half was Lauren Munoz’s kick that clanged off the top of the goal post.
The teams played evenly in the second half until Liberty’s Jayme Zahn scored with two minutes to go on a set kick from about the 30-yard line following a tripping call.
The win ensured that the Liberty girls would earn an undefeated league record of 11-0-2 this season (and an overall record of 20-1-2) as they headed into the playoffs.
Freedom has also played impressively this season, recording 13-7-4 overall and 9-4-2 marks in league play. But the Falcons were unable to stop the Liberty juggernaut, losing all three encounters this season.
“Liberty played a great game,” said Freedom Coach Marc Crockett. “Unfortunately, we didn’t play as well as they did. The girls played hard but they (Liberty) played a little bit better.”
Liberty Coach Tony Martins was elated not only by the victory but how well his team has played this season and, indeed, for the past five years.
“It’s always a hard-fought game between Freedom and us,” said Martins. “I’m really proud of the season that our girls put together – our first league championship ever. They just have been very consistent. It’s our third trip back to the North Coast (playoffs) in a row.
“It’s a great place to coach. The administration is very supportive, the parents support the team and the kids work hard every day – and that’s a great combination. The past five seasons we’ve lost 11 league games; so consistency is there. I’m really proud of the way we played, not only tonight but this entire season. Hopefully, we can continue this (in the playoffs).”
Liberty’s first playoff game was Wednesday night, hosting Amador Valley, the results of which were not available at press time. The winner plays on the road against Foothill High on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.