Liberty girls soccer team rolls to state semifinals

November 13, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

Kiana Hafferty (left), Liberty High School senior midfielder, races Kate Hildahl, of Shorecrest, for the ball during an attack on goal Nov. 7. By Greg Farrar

The memories of last year’s 3A state championship game delicately linger in the minds of the Liberty High School soccer players.

Last year, the Patriots were up 2-0 in the state final against Seattle Prep, but ultimately fell to the Panthers, 3-2, after a roaring comeback.

This year, under the direction of first-year coach Tami Nguyen, Liberty doesn’t intend on letting it happen again.

“The team’s goal is to win these next two state games, so anytime I can help them achieve that goal, then I’m happy about that,” Nguyen said.

It’s been a successful season for the fifth-ranked Patriots, who captured the KingCo 3A title after going 12-1-1 in league play. Liberty had only three losses in the season, all against ranked opponents.

The Patriots took the first step toward advancing to the state championship game when the team defeated Shorecrest, 2-0, in the first round of the state tournament Nov. 7.

It took the team a bit of time to get going in the game, but after junior Kali Youngdahl scored in the 59th minute, the Patriots seemed to hit their stride, Nguyen said.

“I thought we started the game really well, and I felt like we got in and we had a few chances and once those didn’t go, then I felt like we did kind of tense up a little bit,” she said. “Then, once we found the net on the first one, I knew we would kind of relax a little bit and then hopefully find more.”

Later, the Patriots added an insurance goal after Jacquelyn Anderson scored in the 75th minute.

Youngdahl said she was surprised she had the opportunity to get the goal, and even more surprised that it went in.

“Well, usually the ball doesn’t land where I am, so I was kind of surprised,” she said. “I just closed my eyes when I hit the ball, so it went in, I guess.”

The team continued its ascent to the top when it defeated Bonney Lake, 3-1, on Nov. 10.

Nicolle Marlow put the Patriots on the board first with a goal in the 17th minute, and Kiana Hafferty went on to add two more scores.

Now, Liberty is ready and determined as it prepares to face Columbia River, a team it knows little about, in the state semifinals.

“We don’t know anything about them and that can be a good thing or a bad thing,” Nguyen said. “We’re going to use it as a good thing, and just concentrate on us and the things that we do well. Our mindset will be that we can be successful and competitive with any team we play, but we have to bring our game.”

The Patriots are playing with a lot of confidence right now, Youngdahl said, and she credits it to the influence Nguyen has had on the team.

“We’ve had new coaches every single year and we’ve learned to adapt, but Tami especially is special because we’re familiar with her, and she boosts our confidence a lot,” Youngdahl said.

Nguyen, who was named the league’s coach of the year, came to Liberty after a successful career coaching and playing at the collegiate level. She played soccer at the University of Washington, helping the Huskies capture the Pacific-10 Conference championship in 2000.

Next up, Liberty will face Columbia River at 2 p.m. Nov. 16 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. If the team wins, it will play the winner of the Holy Names versus Mount Spokane game for the 3A state title at 2 p.m. Nov. 17, again at Sparks Stadium.

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