Being the aggressor bodes well for scoring chances, and that’s how Liberty approached both halves of Tuesday’s boys soccer game against South Carroll.
The up-tempo attack paid off in the form of two goals, which made the difference in the home team’s 2-1 win to keep the Lions unbeaten in Carroll County Athletic League play.
Senior midfielder Ben Hiebler’s header off a corner kick serve from fellow senior Croix Javier put Liberty (5-0) back on top 5 minutes into the second half. The Lions leaned on their defense from there, withstood a few surges from the Cavaliers (1-2-1), and prevailed.
Hutton Steier came up with a point-blank save in the final seconds to preserve the win.
Liberty struck less than 2 minutes into the game, on a goal by Sam Allen that came from a cross along the end line by senior Chimwemwe Chinkuyu. The Lions did their best to spy throughout the match on Cavs junior Daniel Caparotti, who came into the contest leading Carroll County in scoring.
South Carroll found the equalizer with about 4:30 remaining in the half ― a corner kick from Caparotti bounced around in the box before junior William Davis booted the ball into the net.
“To start the game we came out really strong, definitely locked in and focused,” said Lions coach Dave Abarbanel. “But credit to South Carroll, they really responded. And sometimes it’s tough to respond.”
The Cavaliers had a few other first-half chances, but Steier came up with some critical saves. Meanwhile, SC keeper and co-captain Charlie Boldosser kept his team close with 10 saves overall.
Hiebler’s timely header was the game-winner, but Liberty needed 30-plus minutes of defense to seal the victory on Senior Night.
Chinkuyu, one of 11 seniors recognized before the game, teamed with fellow 12th-grader Michael Pellicciotti in the back for Liberty and kept eyes on Caparotti.
The dangerous striker nearly assisted on another tying goal with the clock ticking down ― Caparotti weaved around a Liberty defender in the near corner and sent a pass into the middle of the box, where Alex Warehime was waiting with no blue jerseys round him.
Warehime’s shot met Steier’s chest, and the Liberty goalie gobbled up the save to prevent overtime with the home team’s crowd letting out a collective exhale.
“Soccer’s a game of momentum, and I give [the Cavs] a lot of credit because they really brought it,” Abarbanel said. “In the second half ... we had a lot of chances on set pieces and finally capitalized.”