Prep soccer roundup: Liberty flies into second round, Tide's season over
What a game.
Liberty advanced to the second round of the boys OSAA state soccer playoffs with a dramatic 1-0 win over Aloha Saturday, Nov. 2, at Liberty High School.
Falcons senior Jacob McDaniel scored from roughly 45 yards out with just five minutes remaining in regulation, taking advantage of the Warriors' goal keeper being slightly out of position and lofting the ball just over his outstretched hands for what would eventually be the game-winner.
The deciding goal came near the end of what was a tremendously physical — bordering on recklessly physical — game.
"It got to the point where I was taking players off the field just to protect them from being injured by Aloha players," Liberty head coach Garrett Blizzard said.
He went on to cite a series of questionable calls that ultimately seemed to ratchet up the physicality of a game already teetering on the brink of control.
"The poor refereeing made it really difficult to find a rhythm with the center calling fouls against us every couple minutes," Blizzard said. "Additionally, the one-sided calls encouraged Aloha to play more aggressive and more reckless."
Early on, the Falcons worked feverishly to control possession in an effort to combat what Blizzard thought would undoubtedly be a bundle of nerves. Despite his team being the higher seed, the coach knew Aloha offered a formidable challenge and knew it was important his team work through the jitters that always accompany the playoffs' opening round.
"The team played well, but we focused primarily on possession," he said. "I knew there would be a lot of nerves so I felt it was important to have them focus on that for the first round; however, that made us a little slow to get into the attack. There were opportunities to score, but only a few."
Despite the 0-0 tie for the bulk of the game, Blizzard was confident throughout and never feared defeat, based primarily on what he saw on the field.
"We never felt like our season was close to being over," said the coach. "We had established control of the game and we just needed the goal to finish it."
And they got it, thanks to McDaniel.
Next the Falcons are scheduled to play Summit of Bend, the same team that knocked them from the playoffs last season. Blizzard said he hasn't yet had a chance to see them on film, but expects much of the same of what they saw last season.
In recent weeks the coach had been eyeballing the rankings, and had hoped to host a potential second round game. But in the final week the Falcons dropped to ninth, setting up a return trip to Bend to hopefully avenge their defeat from last season.
"As fate would have it, we're headed back to Bend to face Summit yet again for round two," he said. "They're a solid team and it will be an epic battle, but we are more than ready for our redemption."
Liberty's game with Summit is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Summit High School in Bend.
In other playoff action last Saturday, Glencoe's season ended in heartbreaking fashion, with the Crimson Tide dropping their first round game with Central Catholic, 4-3. After the game remained tied following a 20-minute overtime period, the game was decided with penalty kicks, as the Rams netted four to Glencoe's three en route to the upset win.
The Tide finished the season with a 7-4-4 record. It was the second time in two years that Glencoe was upset in the playoffs' opening round.
On the girl's side, Liberty's Lady Falcons were overmatched by No. 3-ranked Mountainside, 4-1. Liberty finished the season at 7-6-2. Mountainside advanced to the second round, where they were scheduled to host Cleveland Tuesday, Nov. 5, after this paper's print deadline.
In 5A action, both the Hillsboro boys and girls teams qualified for the state playoffs, with the girls traveling to Corvallis for an opening round game at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at Corvallis High School, and the boys hosting South Albany at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at Hillsboro High School.
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