Liberty's 1-0 win over host South Carroll yesterday afternoon was a pretty good indication of how things have gone for the two field hockey teams this season.
Liberty coach Courtney Vaughn talked about another regional playoff appearance as her Lions won for the sixth time in seven games.
South Carroll coach Stacy Stem still cannot imagine a losing season after three straight winning ones. At 2-7, the Cavaliers have lost more games this season than the three prior seasons combined under Stem.
Liberty sophomore Jessica Horneman scored with 26 seconds left in the first half for the game's only goal.
She took a feed from Amy North off a penalty corner, maintained possession as a South Carroll defender tried to knock it away, and cranked a shot from just inside the circle along the left side to beat Cavaliers goalie Miranda Justice.
The Cavaliers, who have scored one goal in losing their past seven games, tried to rally behind senior Tracie DiDio and junior Jill Baldwin, but couldn't get anything by Liberty goalie Heather Carter.
"We kind of rested on our laurels after going up and tried to keep ahead instead of taking control the way we should with a 1-0 lead. We were letting them dictate late," said Vaughn.
"It was a strong team effort. This is not a one-man team; you look out there and there's no stars. It's pretty balanced and our bench is strong, too. It makes it nice."
Liberty had a definite edge in territory during the first half -- outshooting the Cavaliers 4-2 -- but couldn't get anything in the South Carroll cage until Horneman's effort.
South Carroll tried to answer 10 minutes into the second half when Baldwin fired a shot off a penalty corner, but it never made it to the net as a Lions defender cleared it.
Down the stretch, DiDio used some crafty stickwork before sending a ball to Baldwin in the circle, but her shot was snuffed by another Liberty defender.
"Scoring has been a definite problem for us all year," said Stem.
"We're just not taking advantage of opportunities we had in front of their cage, and we had plenty. We don't play with guts and there's no leadership -- it's frustrating."