SALADO — Behind three-first half goals, the Salado boys soccer team defeated Liberty Hill 4–0 in a battle between the top-two teams in District 25-4A.
The two were supposed to meet Tuesday, but with the heavy rains Tuesday morning both teams decided to postpone the matchup a day because of a wet field.
In the first matchup on Jan. 17 in Liberty Hill, the Eagles and Panthers had to decide the contest on penalty kicks after both teams were scoreless in regulation and overtime. Salado ended up coming out on top.
This time, the Eagles left no doubt, as they came out looking like a team aiming to win a district championship.
“My guys knew what was at stake tonight, and they went out and played really well,” said Salado head coach Michael Goos. “I think they have had this game marked on their calendar. With knowing how important it would be and the fact that both teams were tied with the same amount of points going into the game, it says a lot about how ready we were tonight.
“The guys know that in order to win a district championship you have to go through Liberty Hill, and we have done that.”
In the 14th minute, Camden LaCanne passed ahead to Costas Loullis, who shook off a defender and found the bottom of the net.
Salado’s (14-1, 6-0) next two goals were scored by Kaden Smien, who scored both just four minutes apart.
Loullis added his second of the match in the second half off a throw in.
The Eagles received a fantastic night from goalkeeper Trey Sheppard. The
junior didn’t allow a goal with Liberty Hill (8-8, 4-2) taking 21 shots on goal.
“Trey is phenomenal,” Goos said. “He’s quick, strong, sure-handed; he’s the real deal. I don’t know if we have seen any keepers like him.”
Daniel Magadan also contributed with an assist in the match.
Caleb Chambliss and Sam Shearer were stout on the defensive end for the Eagles as well.
On the girls’ side, Liberty Hill defeated Salado 3-2 in overtime, as the Lady Panthers handed the Lady Eagles their first district loss of 25-4A competition.
Twice, the Lady Eagles (9-4-1, 5-1) came back from a hole to tie the match. Salado overcame deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 in the contest, and Goos admitted he likes the way his team doesn’t quit and let their heads down when things don’t go their way.
“The girls showed a lot of toughness to be down,” Goos said, “and to be able to fight back in that game like they did today says a lot about their character. It was a tough loss, and one we will learn from and make us better.
“We have a young team, but they worked hard and they showed really a lot of what they are made of to be able to come back like they did.”
Ashlen LaCanne scored Salado’s first goal to tie the match at 1-1 in the 38th minute of the first half. The junior added her second goal in the second half with 11 minutes left in regulation; she scored on a header from freshman Hannah Reavis to even the contest at 2-2.
In overtime, the Lady Panthers (7-7, 5-1) won the match when they scored a goal in the second minute of the first 10-minute half.
Also standing out for the Lady Eagles were Rylie Stewart, Rebecca Gonzales, Annie Ewton, Kristin Crouch and Grace Graham.
Both Salado teams return to action Friday, hosting Leander Glenn.