Slogging through an 11-31-9 record over the past three years, the seniors on Liberty’s girls soccer team haven’t had many reasons to get excited.
That might be about to change.
Madison Chavez scored a put-back goal in the 64th minute, and the Patriots rallied for a 1-1 home tie with Coronado, extending Liberty’s unbeaten streak to five games dating to last season.
“As a senior, we’ve never won this many games in a row,” said Sam Desario, one of eight Liberty seniors. “I feel like we’re more confident as a team. I feel like we get along a lot better than we have in the past.”
Dating to the final match of last season, the Patriots (3-0-1, 1-0-1 Southeast League) have beaten Clark and Cheyenne and are 1-0-1 against Southeast foe Tech.
Coronado (2-3-1, 1-0-1) took the lead only three minutes in when Nia Moreno poked a ball to Breanna McCallum for a lofting shot from the corner that sailed out of reach of Liberty goalkeeper Amanda Saade.
It was Coronado’s only shot on goal in the first half for Coronado, and the Patriots had a 13-6 shots advantage for the game. Liberty kept coming forward.
“Our goal was just to shoot at the goal,” Desario said. “Everything we got, we just had to put (on net). Everything in the box was just a better opportunity to put it in. The more you shoot, eventually something’s going to stick.”
That something came in the 64th minute, when one of Liberty’s three corner kicks set off a chaotic chain of events.
Coronado’s defense tried to clear the set piece, but the Patriots’ Alexia Gonzalez nailed a shot that ricocheted off the far post and fell to the feet of Sunshine Soriano. But Soriano, who leads the team with five goals, came up empty as Coronado keeper Kaitlyn Fahrner pushed the ball, then lost sight of it.
Seeing an opening, Chavez raced through a pack of defenders and nipped a shot from inches outside the goal line.
“Honestly, when that happened, I thought, ‘It’s just going to be one of those games where it just doesn’t go in,’ ” Liberty coach Eric Rolwing said. “I didn’t even see (Chavez) coming up, but when she kicked it … those are the best moments in soccer. I wasn’t expecting anything, and she just pounded it.”
The tie gave the Patriots new confidence, having put together their best unbeaten streak in four seasons and taking a point from a Coronado team that reached last year’s Class 4A Southern Nevada championship match.
The Patriots haven’t qualified for the postseason since the 2005-06 season.
“We have the players this year, and everybody believes we have a shot,” Rolwing said. “After this game … we don’t want to be just a one-and-done, great game. We’re definitely a top-10 team this year. We’re a very solid team.”