By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
After winning the school’s first-ever state championship in 2011 and returning to the championship game in 2012, a season short of that goal in 2013 seemed like a letdown. But that’s how high Liberal coach Lori Navarro has placed the bar for the Liberal Redskin soccer program since the founding of the sport.
The Redskins won a playoff game last season before being eliminated in the second round by Kapaun in overtime.
And yet, that is not the level of success that is expected for the perennial powerhouse program.
The team provided a sneak peek for the upcoming season Thursday in the annual scrimmage against the alumni team, and the Redskins showcased why the have high hopes in 2014.
Liberal’s youth was an asset in the first five minutes of the scrimmage, and the Redskins were able to get three shot attempts early.
But the experienced, and larger, alumni took control through the middle of the first half and forced the Redskins to defend.
The alumni passed with relative ease — for a while.
But the Redskins showed their ability to learn and adapt, and in the final 10 minutes of the first half, the Redskins started intercepting passes and pushing the offense.
The Redskins were able to score late in the first half to take a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, Navarro made substitutions, and they paid off as well.
The Redskins scored a second goal in the first five minutes of the second half to take a 2-0 lead.
The alumni finally scored a goal with less than 10 minutes to play, and with less than three minutes to go, the alumni added the tying goal.
For Navarro, she saw some positives as well as some areas she wants to improve before next week’s Titan Classic Tournament in Wichita.
“I think it went really good,” she said after the scrimmage against the alumni. “We could have used more control from our center mids and controlled the game a little better. But we are playing all stars, great players from the great teams we’ve had in the past, and this is a good way for us to gauge where we are at early in the season and where we’re going to be in the Titan Classic tournament.”
The scrimmage allowed Navarro to focus on the areas she wants to see improve over the weekend prior to the season opener Monday.
“I thought we did great defensively,” she said. “Offensively I felt we could have been a little better, but that is our job as coaches to continue to develop them and to work on those weaknesses that we have to get them ready.”
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