lions girls' soccer win

Photo by Tony Kukulich

The Liberty girls’ soccer team’s 1-0 win over Berkeley in the North Coast Section quarterfinals took longer than most people wanted on a cold Brentwood night. But the end result was worth the wait for the Lions and their fans.

Madison Del Prado’s golden goal – eight minutes into the second overtime period – launched the Lions into the section semifinals against Carondelet.

“I thought the girl got it, I just took it and turned around and saw the goal wide open, so I took a shot and hoped it went in,” said Del Prado, moments after she was sandwiched by her teammates as they celebrated the victory.

Third-seed Liberty (17-2-4) will play second-seed Carondelet (14-2-6) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Carondelet Athletic Complex.

Del Prado’s magic emerged as she turned left around a defender near the 5-yard line, drilling the winning goal past the vertically stretched arms of Berkeley senior goalkeeper Leah Freeman.

The miss tarnished an otherwise spectacular evening for Freeman, who notched a season-high 14 saves in the losing effort.

Liberty also defeated Berkeley 1-0 on Dec. 20, the only other match between the two teams this season.

“We expected it to be as tight as it was,” said Liberty head coach Tony Martins. “Berkeley is a fantastic team with a fantastic goalkeeper … To have to go into overtime and win it makes it that much more gratifying, because it was so difficult to do.”

Liberty goalkeeper Kaelyn Adams preserved the victory with three saves on the night – her second straight shutout and Liberty’s fifth in a row.

But by the end of the match, all eyes were on the freshman sensation, Del Prado, who collected her team-leading 15th goal.

“We knew we were going to get it,” she said. “Because we were there and kept having chances, so we kept pushing and pushing and we finally got it.”

This victory sets up Liberty’s clash with Carondelet, the winner advancing to the section championship game against the victor of a match between top-seed Monte Vista and fifth-seed San Ramon Valley.

Minutes after the win, Coach Martins admitted that Liberty will have its hands full playing the talented and well-coached Cougars. But before then, a little celebrating was in order, courtesy of Del Prado’s foot.

“I feel fantastic,” Martins said. “I feel fortunate (we won).”