Dunbar has Liberty goal-oriented Senior gives Lions early offensive push

September 28, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

Liberty senior midfielder Jason Dunbar recalls getting a lot of the same scoring opportunities last year that he has so far this year.

The difference: He's now making the most of them.

A case in point came last Tuesday with Liberty and host Linganore battling in a scoreless game late into regulation. With seven minutes left, Dunbar scored the game's only goal -- and his seventh of the season -- to keep the eighth-ranked Lions unbeaten at 5-0. It wasn't until Thursday's game against Frederick, a 3-0 win, that Dunbar failed to score in a game this season.

That's coming off a year in which he played well, but only came up with two goals all season. So what's this year's secret?

"I don't know," Dunbar said.

"I guess I've been at the right place at the right time. Last year, I remember having a lot of the same chances, but not always finishing. This year, I'm making the most of the opportunities."

A year-round soccer player who first started playing when he was 5, Dunbar is finding many different ways to score and plenty of other ways to help the Lions win. In a victory over Francis Scott Key earlier this month, he scored on a header off a corner kick for the game-winner and added insurance with a direct kick from 25 yards that hit the post and then went in off the back of the goalie.

"He's got a cannon for a shot," said Liberty coach Lee Kestler.

"He's got the capability of being a big goal scorer. He doesn't waste any opportunities and puts a great emphasis on shot selection. If he doesn't have it, he'll give the ball up."

While most recognition comes with scoring goals, Dunbar also sets the tempo for the Lions with an ability to distribute to his teammates at his center midfield position.

"I just try to keep the ball moving. I'm fortunate in that our wing midfielders stay wide and run onto balls very well. It creates a lot of opportunities," Dunbar said.

With fellow senior Kevin Henderson temporarily sidelined with an injury, Dunbar knew he would have to step up and take control. Henderson, the Lions' go-to player from the start, is back in the lineup and should make the Lions that much more potent down the road. Kestler has been pleased with the way Dunbar has taken charge.

"Jason has really stepped up to the occasion," Kestler said.

"He knows the game and has great vision of the whole field. Most importantly, he looks to play feet to feet as opposed to passing to open space. That's how we've always done it at Liberty, he understands that and does a good job of it."

After an uncharacteristic 1992 season in which the Lions didn't win the county or Central Maryland Conference for the first time since he's been there, Dunbar and his teammates have some lofty goals for the rest of this season. The fast start has brought on even more confidence.

"We've all been playing together since we were 10 years old," Dunbar said.

"Everybody has stepped up and been a leader and Travis [Foote] is our captain and keeps everything together. We've been talking about a state title for Liberty since our freshmen year and now is the time."

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