Composed Liberty wins, 4-0 Lions advance with easy victory over Wheaton

Boys soccer

October 29, 1997|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

For the 13th-ranked Liberty Lions, the toughest aspect of last night's Class 3A West regional quarterfinal wasn't keeping visiting Wheaton at bay. It was keeping their own composure.

In a game featuring five yellow cards, one ejection and nearly 20 minutes of injury time, Liberty scored two goals in each half en route to a 4-0 win.

Despite dominating play throughout, and outshooting the Knights, 23-4, the Lions had to contend with a young and sometimes frustrated Wheaton team that sometimes pushed the limits of aggressive play.

"You get in the playoffs, and no matter what team you are you don't want to lose because you don't want your season to end," said Lions coach Ed DeVincent. "Unfortunately, sometimes games can get a bit choppy and a little bit rough and out of control, and I think you saw that at times tonight in the second half. I thought we did a good job keeping our composure."

Liberty (9-4) advances in the tournament to play in the regional semifinals, on the road against either Walter Johnson or Thomas Johnson on a day and time to be determined.

To get through this one, however, the Lions simply followed the prudent advice of their coach. Facing an unfamiliar team, they stuck to the formula they have followed all season.

"We didn't know a whole lot about them, so we just told the team [Monday] that we weren't going to change anything," said DeVincent. "We were just going to come out and play our game. It got a little choppy at times, but I think from start to finish we did the job."

The Lions nearly took the lead 2: 20 into the game, when Micah Reese's header in front of the goal was met with an acrobatic save by goalie David Mera. Still, it didn't take them long to break through.

Eight minutes later, Nathan McCullough took a feed from Mike Haskell to make it a 1-0 game.

Liberty's Tim Chairs made it 2-0 with an excellent effort with 26: 41 to play before the half.

Playing with the lead, Haskell said, he found it easier to make level-headed decisions.

Said Haskell: "When you're behind and it gets complicated like that you lose your head a little bit. When you're ahead, you can pretty much keep your composure."

Haskell made it a three-goal game with 19: 30 to play, scoring on a bullet from 10 yards out, and Dan Silver made it 4-0 with his solo effort less than a minute later.

For the Knights (0-13), the night was a learning experience of sorts.

"There was cheap stuff both ways," said Wheaton coach Jeff Kelly. "It was a hard-fought battle. I'm proud of my guys. They're a young team, and now they have the experience of being a visiting team and dealing with home-field advantage. Hopefully, they'll learn some lessons for next year."

Pub Date: 10/29/97

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