Liberty felt it had a point to prove last night against Francis Scott Key. It wasn't quite as easy as the Lions had hoped, but they got the job done.
The brothers Locklear, Keith and Sean, had a goal apiece while Brian Silva scored on a penalty kick as Liberty rebounded from a tough loss to outlast visiting Francis Scott Key, 3-1, in a Carroll County boys soccer game.
The Lions have won six of the past seven county titles but lost several players from last year's 14-2 team that made it to the region final. They've also heard the whispers that they aren't quite as good this year - and they wanted to give a great effort in this game after Tuesday's 5-0 loss against No. 1 River Hill.
"We were pumped up, and we didn't want to start the county season with a loss," Keith Locklear said. "Everyone's been saying that we're down. We like having the pressure and want to show we're [still good]."
Liberty coach Ed DeVincent thought a strong performance was vital.
"We had to bounce back after that loss," DeVincent said. "We're very young and we're still jelling as a team."
Liberty (2-1, 1-0 county) quickly took charge. Sean Locklear collared a loose ball in the Francis Scott Key box and fired a 10-yard shot into the left corner for a 1-0 lead just 3 minutes, 58 seconds into the game.
"That gave us momentum," he said. "We were kind of down on the loss for awhile, but we knew we needed this win for the county. We just stepped it up."
Silva then scored on a penalty kick 15:59 into the game. Nick Denny was taken down in the box, and Silva drilled a shot just inside the left post that Francis Scott Key goalie Matt Baile could do little about.
But the Eagles Key (2-1, 0-1) wouldn't quit. Just 74 seconds later, they got a penalty shot of their own when Liberty goalie Matt Jolly was whistled for pushing in the box. Brad Thompson scored on a low shot to make it 2-1.
Liberty did a solid job of marking top scorers Thompson and Jeremy Ziegler, making scoring chances hard to find. Silva, James Napp and Nick Rigby helped slow Thompson; Andy Gackenbach marked Ziegler.
Liberty got an insurance goal with 10:01 left. Justin Ahmanson curved a direct kick to Keith Locklear, who headed it in from about 5 yards to make it 3-1.
"They didn't roll over, they showed some character," Key coach Steve Smith said of his team. "I think we showed the county something. We really thought we could get this one."