Liberty High Downs North Scott to Give Harding First Win As Head Coach
Your Prep Sports
NORTH LIBERTY – First mother nature delayed the start of the Liberty High soccer season.
Then the Lightning let a late lead get away in a 2-1 season-opening loss to West High on Tuesday.
It may have taken a few days longer than the Lightning would have preferred but Liberty High got into the win column for the first time on Thursday.
Sophomore Roman Riggs scored twice and senior Hayden Saul added a goal and an assist to lift Liberty High to a 4-2 win over North Scott (1-4) in a non-conference matchup in North Liberty.
“It feels good to get the first win,” Saul said. “I think we should have had it Tuesday but it feels good to get a win.”
Liberty High snapped a 2-2 tie with a pair of goals in the final 25 minutes while evening its season record at 1-1.
The win was the first for first-year head coach Matt Harding at Liberty High.
“The way we scheduled this year it wasn’t about wins in the early season it’s just getting these guys to learn to play together,” Harding said. “Getting it to come together as an 11 is still a little way off but we’ve got some challenging games coming up so that will certainly have our attention and we will find things to improve on game by game and hopefully by the time we get around to late May we are functioning at a high rate.”
Riggs gave Liberty High an early lead with a goal in the third minute.
“I got the ball with one center back in front of me and took one touch around,” Riggs said. “I just placed it off the corner.”
North Scott answered but Liberty High took a 2-1 lead into the half on a Saul goal in the 31st minute.
Saul beat a pair of defenders into the box and ripped a shot into the upper left hander corner for his second goal of the season.
“I saw an opportunity and took it,” Saul said. “Inside the 18 and I just hit a rocket. It’s nice to be able to get up and rip a few shots.”
It took North Scott less than three minutes into the second half to again pull even, as Liam Regan lofted a shot over Liberty High keeper Conley Sunblad from near midfield.
Unlike its opener against West High in which the Lightning were outscored 2-0 over the final 20 minutes on Thursday Liberty High closed with a flurry.
“We were a little tired today but I thought we fought better at the end,” Saul said. “The last 20 minutes on Tuesday they had two goals on us and tonight we had two goals in the last 20.”
Sophomore Mason Pentecost scored off a Saul assist in the 56th minute to give Liberty High a 3-2 lead.
Sundblad came up with several key saves on one-on-one situations in the final 15 minutes, twice stopping shots from North Scott senior Henry Rose.
“I think it was helpful we got some quality minutes off the bench so I am really grateful to those guys,” Harding said. “We were able to go a lot deeper into the bench tonight and that allowed some of the guys that we have to rely on to get a good rest in the second half. We were able to use all of our bench players tonight and that was critical, that is what was missing on Tuesday night against West we just didn’t have the legs the last 20 minutes.”
Riggs put the finishing touches on the win with his second goal of the match with 26 seconds remaining.
“We created a lot more chances tonight,” Riggs said. “We only had two good chances against West and we scored four tonight against a decent team which is much better.”
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