The balance of power in girls soccer was supposed to shift considerably toward Liberty this season, with the Lions returning many players and South Carroll losing a good part of last year's team.
The Cavaliers had other ideas last night when they visited Liberty and came away with a 2-1 win.
Jamie Baier neatly tucked home a penalty kick into the lower left corner with just over a minute remaining after the Cavaliers dominated the final 15-plus minutes of the second half.
"We grew up a lot tonight," said South Carroll coach Jim Horn.
Horn came into the match a bit concerned because three players were making their first varsity starts and freshman keeper Amanda Hughes had yet to be seriously tested.
But the Cavaliers (4-0) jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Shannan Henley three minutes in.
Michele Mitchell got the play started when she sent Lindsey Vosloh down the right side with a through ball. Vosloh sent a ball to the far post that found Henley, who sent it past Liberty goalie Angie Primavera.
"That was real important for us. We came out fired up and if we hadn't been able to jump out and get that early goal who knows what might have happened," Horn said.
The Lions (2-3) got even late in the first half when Shanna Ziegenfuss scored after running onto a through ball from Michele Clawson along the right side.
Liberty had some chances early in the second half, but wore down later with the Cavaliers substituting more frequently.
"South Carroll came out real strong and stuck to their game plan," said Liberty coach Chuck Martin. "I was pleased with the way our team kept our composure and came back with the tying goal. They controlled the ball in the second half and we had trouble just getting the ball out of our end."
It set the stage for Baier, who was taking the shot after a Liberty hand ball in the penalty area.
"I was nervous," said Baier, who told Horn she didn't want to take the kick. "It feels really good and I'm so happy for our team."