Liberty falls to Bonney Lake in playoffs

November 16, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

The Liberty High School girls soccer team fell to the Bonney Lake Panthers 2-1 Nov. 9 in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament, ending the Patriots’ thrilling season that included a KingCo Conference championship.

Winning the 3A/2A KingCo title gave the Patriots automatic entry into the state tournament and allowed them to bypass preliminary rounds, but it left the team without a game for nearly two weeks. Liberty head coach Malia Arrant said the long absence from play slowed the team at the beginning of the state tournament game with Bonney Lake.

Bonney Lake came out aggressive, with freshman Brittany Martin racking up two goals in the first half: one goal at the 15-minute mark and another at the 36-minute mark.

Liberty responded by turning up the intensity, as it has often done, and just two minutes after Bonney Lake’s second score, Liberty senior defender Baylee Cooke found the back of the net thanks to a nice setup by junior midfielder Kimi Fry.

“I haven’t scored all season. It was really exciting,” Cooke said. “Perfect ball by Kimi — I have to give a shout out to her. It was so much fun.”

The goal brought the score to 2-1 at halftime, and the Patriots continued to fight with fervid intensity throughout the second half. However, despite several close shots on goal, Liberty was not able to tie the game before the clock dropped to zero.

“At halftime, we just tried to feed on the momentum we had at the end of the first half,” Arrant said. “They wanted it and you could tell, but they just ran out of time. I was definitely proud of the second half. The first half I wish we could redo — it would have been a whole different game.”

After the game, Arrant reflected on the season with the team, recalling highlights such as being undefeated in conference play. The final loss put Liberty’s final record at 11-3-3, a dramatic improvement from 4-9-4 in 2009, which landed the team fourth out of seven teams in KingCo.

Junior forward Cassidy Nangle said Arrant, in her first year coaching the team, was instrumental in the Patriots’ success this year.

“I give a lot of credit to Malia and what she’s done. She’s completely turned our program around,” she said. “She really made it work and gave us a better understanding of how to play and how to play together as a team, and really achieve all of our goals.”

However, Arrant turned credit back to the team, which she said used its tremendous amount of heart to fight back when trailing and knock down goals in the closing minutes of multiple matches.

“There’s just a lot of talent on the team. My job was pretty easy,” Arrant said. “Just organize them, keep them motivated, put some teamwork in there and give them a little team strategy and let the players do the work. And they did a great job.”

Now, many of the players will return to club teams to play year-round soccer, although they are surely looking forward to a big second season with Arrant next fall.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that next year we’re going to come out and hopefully be a top competitor again,” Nangle said.

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