‘Further than it’s ever been’ for Liberty soccer team

November 22, 2011

By Christina Lords

Liberty takes second at 3A state soccer championship

Kali Youngdahl (8), Liberty High School sophomore midfielder, is mobbed by teammates Mollie Cooke (left) and Kailiana Johnson after putting the Patriots up 2-0 with a goal in the sixth minute. By Greg Farrar

After the Liberty High School girls soccer team dropped its first match of the season to the Skyline Spartans on Sept. 6, the Patriots made a commitment to themselves — and each other.

“We never wanted to feel that way again,” Liberty starting forward and co-captain Cassidy Nangle said.

Eighteen straight victories, including the 1-0 win against Eastside Catholic Nov. 18 to catapult Liberty into the 3A state championship game, brought the Patriots closer to their ultimate goal: a state title.

The Nov. 19 state championship at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup pitted experience against unfamiliarity as Liberty faced Seattle Prep, the defending state champions who have played in the title game five of the past six years.

It was Liberty’s first time in the final game in the school’s 34-year history.

After battling hard into the final seconds of the game, the Patriots fell to the Panthers, 3-2.

And although it was an emotional finish to end the season, especially for graduating seniors, Nangle said the experience of making it to the finals will have lasting implications for Liberty soccer.

“My junior year, we made it into the playoffs,” she said. “This year, we made it to the state championship. You get a taste of it. You gain that experience, so it’s easier next time around.”

While their final game didn’t end the way they wanted, Nangle said she’s proud of the team’s accomplishments.

“We were able to take the name of Liberty soccer further than it’s ever been,” she said. “We made it to the state championship, and that was something we couldn’t frown upon.”

Part of the Patriots’ success this season has centered on creating a family atmosphere on the team, from the youngest underclassmen to the graduating seniors, Nangle said.

“Each of us has respect for each other when we step out on the field,” she said. “It’s just kind of a mindset that we got in. We know that you can’t accomplish things just as individuals.”

The Patriots started strong in the championship game after Liberty junior Kiana Hafferty found the back of the net with an assisted goal from Nangle only two minutes into the game.

With an assist from senior Kimi Fry, Liberty sophomore Kali Youngdahl slipped a goal by Panthers goal keeper Abby Rockwell four minutes later.

Liberty coach Jamie Giger said being up 2-0 is often the one of the most difficult places to be in a competitive game.

“You feel comfortable,” she said. “You feel that you have the game … that’s just the way it goes. They came back. Give it to them, they played really hard when they were down.”

Seattle Prep senior Sarah Schwaegler put the Panthers on the board 21 minutes into the first half to bring the score to 2-1. The Panthers added two unanswered goals, sealing the state-championship win.

Giger said she knew the Patriots had the potential to make it to the championships early on in the season.

“The first day we were at practice, I looked at these kids and I knew we had the talent to do it,” Giger said. “It was just (up to) them if they could believe in themselves. I think throughout the season, talent-wise, we were already really good, but I think where we grew was believing in ourselves.”

Liberty 1, Eastside Catholic 0

The Patriots made Kailiana Johnson’s goal in the 16th minute stand up to earn a spot in the final for the first time. They lost in three previous semifinal appearances, most recently in 2001.

Eastside Catholic goalkeeper Lauren “Nemo” Thomas made several diving saves and Liberty missed three wide-open shots. One shot, with Thomas out of the net, hit the post while the others sailed high or wide.

Johnson’s goal, her 15th of the season, came off a feed from Nangle.

Liberty goalkeeper Macaire Ament recorded her 11th shutout of the season. It was the 18th consecutive victory for Liberty.

Christina Lords: 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcastle@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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