The Liberty County High School Panther soccer squads hosted West Laurens on Friday night to make up a game that was delayed by rainy weather two weeks ago. With no rain in sight, the boys took the field first and shut out the West Laurens Raiders 3-0. Shortly afterwards, the girls took the field at Donell Woods but lost 0-3 to the Lady Raiders.
Panthers 3, Raiders 0Great defense by both teams kept the first half scoreless. But the Panther squad came out blazing in the second half.
Just four minutes after intermission, Panther Adrien Vakerics passed the ball to Robbie Bacon. Bacon touched the ball twice and found Panther Jalen Gilyard open for the shot. Bacon gave a slight kick in Gilyard’s direction and Gilyard moved in for the shot and the Panthers’ first goal of the game.
Less than a minute later, the ball went to Bacon. Two touches and a swift side kick later the Liberty boys were up 2-0.
Vakerics hit another shot with nine minutes left in the game but he was called off-sides and the point didn’t count.
Four minutes later, however, Bacon found the goal again, giving the boys a 3-0 Region 3-AAA victory.
Vakerics played aggressive throughout the game and was tripped or knocked to the ground several times. Each time, he brushed the dirt from his uniform, fixed his shin guards and kept going. He showcased his athletic prowess and wowed the crowd with a front somersault throw during the game. Although Panther coach Bryant Durham said it was a bit showy, he said Vakerics is a tremendous athlete and a great young man.
He said Vakerics’ main sport is soccer and he is a team player who is unselfish with the ball.
As for the Panther squad, the coach said they are still tweaking things.
"We are trying some different defenses and switching people around and trying to play a game by committee instead of people dedicated to play just one position," the coach said. "We don’t have quite the experience we had last year, but we have talent on the field. It’s just a matter of playing together and working together."
Lady Panthers 0,
Lady Raiders 3
Unlike the boys, the girls struggled offensively and the Lady Raiders displayed finesse on their passes offensively. Although the final score was 0-3, the Lady Raiders earned only one goal in the game.
The Raiders’ first goal hit the corner of the goal and took an awkward bounce inside the net.
At the break, the Liberty girls trailed by one. In the second half, the Lady Raiders took a corner kick and as a Lady Panther attempted to defend it away from the goal, she accidentally kicked it in, giving the opponent its second goal of the game. The final Lady Raider goal came as a hard kick to Lady Panther goalkeeper Diamone Johnson.
Johnson jumped and got the ball, but the angle at which she came down placed the ball inside the line for a point.
Lady Panther coach Jarvis McArthur reported that Johnson continues to improve, and said he is truly impressed by the energy and playing skills of two of his freshmen, Ashley Howe and Taylor Christner. He added that Jenna Rountree and Karen Donaldson had great games.
The coach said his defense played extremely well and gave credit to the opponents’ offensive skills.
The Panther squads were scheduled to be on the bus Saturday morning, headed to Washington County for another region game. The results of that game will be in Wednesday’s Coastal Courier.