A two-game losing streak. The loss of their second-leading scorer for the season.
The Liberty girls soccer team seemed to have all the elements for losing to neighborhood rival South Carroll last night, but the Lions notched the game's first four goals to surprise the visiting Cavaliers, 4-2.
Liberty junior midfielder Becky Podobnik led the way with two goals, and junior defender Crystal Rivas and sophomore midfielder Meagan Voight added a goal apiece.
A lot was at stake for the 3-2-1 Lions, who were swept by South Carroll (5-3-1) in last year's two-game season series.
"The kids were ready to go," said Liberty coach Victor H. Aulestia. "Last year, it was a shame. They came tonight with that in mind."
Senior midfielder Michelle Allen, who chipped in two assists, said she was dedicating the win to sophomore midfielder Kelly Fiorani, the team's second-leading scorer who was suspended two weeks ago for a county school system infraction.
"Kelly's been a huge part of this team," Allen said. "It meant a lot for us to win for her because she couldn't be out here to play."
Added Podobnik: "Good teams stick through things like that. We played with a great intensity."
That attitude showed in the first half as the Lions countered the Cavaliers' long-passing game with short passes along the sidelines.
The strategy paid off for Liberty with 9: 07 gone in the first half when Allen sent the ball to Rivas, who one-timed it from 10 yards out into the right side of the net.
Less than 13 minutes later, Voight extended the Lions' lead to 2-0 with a goal that deflected off a South Carroll player and banked off the right post into the net.
Podobnik gave Liberty a three-goal lead when she fired a centering pass from Allen into the right side with 12: 01 left in the first half.
Halftime barely cooled the Lions as they struck 3: 15 into the second half. Podobnik pounced on a long ball, dribbled about 10 yards and booted a laser past Cavaliers junior goalkeeper Jen Conaway for a 4-0 advantage.
But it took 24 seconds for South Carroll senior midfielder Sandy Lagana to thwart Liberty junior goalie Carolyn Heisch's bid for a shutout. Lagana found the ball in the middle of a scrum in front of the net and tapped it in.
Lagana notched her second goal of the game when she hit a pass from senior striker Kylie Skinner into the left corner from 20 yards out with 8: 08 left in the game.
The Lions' defense collected itself and prevented any further damage to clinch the win.
Cavaliers coach Jim Horn called his squad's performance in the first half "pathetic."
"But even down three, I thought we had a chance until we gave up that fourth goal," Horn said. "The only good thing I can say about that fourth goal is that after that, we decided to play. But you can't decide to play with 35 minutes left in the game."