Liberty fades to finish fourth in state soccer tourney
December 6, 2012
By John Leggett
A Liberty High School girls soccer squad that breezed through the regular season to win the KingCo 3A with a 12-0-1 mark, and automatically punch its ticket to the state tournament as the conference winner, could not have met with worse fortune in the semifinal round of the state tournament held at Puyallup High School’s Sparks Field on Nov. 16 and 17.
In the semis, against Columbia River, Liberty was cruising along and it seemed as though it had secured a surefire 1-0 victory, courtesy of a Tara Johnson goal scored in the first half off a Katie Noonan assist.
Suddenly in the contest’s 69th minute, the Chieftains took one of their two kick-and-a-prayer shots on goal they strung together during the entire game. It somehow got past one of the leading net minders in the state to knot the tally at 1 all.
The Chieftains shored up their defense to keep Liberty at bay the rest of the way in regulation, and after a pair of five-minute overtime periods yielded no winner, the semis shifted into a shootout scenario, from which Columbia River emerged as the game’s winner.
With the state championship trophy now out of reach, Liberty showed its character by soldiering on to play the Holy Names Academy in Saturday’s consolation encounter early the next day. After a scoreless first half, the Holy Names Academy Cougars’ Katie Chandler took an assist from Camariah King to notch the meeting’s only goal in the 57th minute. Holy Names’ goalie, Kayla Baskett managed to preserve the shutout, as she staved off all offensive threats attempted by Liberty, and the Patriots’ season ended as Holy Names registered a 1-0 conquest.
Tami Nguyen, the first-year coach of Liberty and the fourth one that the Patriots have had in as many years, said there was no way she would call the season a disappointment.
“For these girls, especially the seniors, to accomplish what they have in the past four campaigns, under four different coaches, is pretty amazing. They finished second in state last year, so obviously we would have liked to be in the championship game this season. But I wouldn’t say that this season was discouraging by any means,” said Nguyen, adding that it was all about the journey the girls made together to reach the post-season, including a decisive 3-1 triumph over a very good Bonney Lake squad in the quarterfinals and the friendships they made along the way.
Additionally, Nguyen reported that for four of the seniors graduating in June will move on to play at the college level. While senior midfielder Kiana Hafferty will stay in the Puget Sound area to play for Seattle Pacific University in 2013 on a soccer scholarship, fate has steered defender Katie Noonan southward, as she will play for Southeastern Louisiana University. Meanwhile, both striker Kailiana Johnson and midfielder Nicolle Marlow will head to the Palouse to play for Washington State University.