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Creative Martinez leads Liberty over Fauquier boys soccer team

Friday, May. 9 | By Jeff Malmgren
Luca Sansone and the Liberty Eagles beat Zac Faith's Fauquier Falcons, 4-1, Friday in Warrenton. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
Carlos Martinez had the magic touch Friday.

Whenever the ball disappeared from his foot, it seemed to reappear in a spot perfect for a scoring opportunity. That paid off frequently for his Liberty Eagles.

Martinez created three of the Eagles' goals during a 4-1 victory over the Fauquier boys soccer team on the road in Warrenton, helping Liberty improve its record to 5-5-1. He capped the scoring with 14 minutes, 56 seconds remaining in the second half on a seemingly impossible shot from the right corner of the field.

Liberty's Luca Sansone initiated the play – a direct free kick. Sansone, who takes the majority of Liberty's set plays, faked a shot and then cleared out for Martinez to kick the ball. Facing an acute angle off Martinez's foot, the ball slid untouched through Fauquier's shifting defenders and then squeezed between the goalkeeper and the goal post, a hole seemingly narrower than the ball.

"He's definitely one of the savvier players," said Falcons defender Gideon Nigh, whose team fell to 3-6-1. "He'll create plays. He'll score goals. He's definitely dangerous and we need to try and work better at shutting him down."

Martinez deflected credit for his lone goal of the match.

"The main part of it was the fake shot," he said. "The defense stepped up and there was confusion for me to be able to hit a nice hard ball."

That goal was a reward of sorts for Martinez after he spent the rest of the night setting up his teammates for scoring opportunities.

The Eagles, however, actually managed to score their first goal without Martinez's influence.

During the opening three minutes of the match, Liberty failed to possess the ball in its offensive third of the field. The Eagles' first foray to that area resulted in a corner kick, though, and a ball off the foot of Sansone found Rodman Munson at the face of the goal.

"Tanner [Holland] was stepping in front of it, so I thought he was going to hit it," Munson said of his teammate. "He nicked it a little bit and I just kind of put my foot up" to score.

Munson volleyed the ball into the net to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead with 36 minutes, 1 second remaining in the first half.

"He's kind of our corner-kick finishing specialist," Liberty coach Greg McLeod said, "and he came through tonight."

Later, with 22:47 remaining before halftime, Liberty took a 2-0 lead when Kevin Garcia ran down a ball from Martinez, his cousin. Martinez kicked the ball over Fauquier's defense for Garcia, who had his first shot deflected but gathered the rebound to score.

"They've played together pretty much their whole lives," McLeod said of Garcia and Martinez. "I couldn't imagine playing without either one. … They're not selfish ball players. They really love the game."

Martinez next assisted another Munson goal with 16:23 remaining in the first half, snatching the ball from Fauquier at midfield and kicking a through ball for Munson, who converted his third goals this season.

Less than eight minutes later, Fauquier defender Luke Dodds made one of a handful of big stops for the Falcons to keep their deficit from growing. Trailing by three yards, Dodds tracked down Martinez as the Liberty junior tried to settle a bouncing ball for a one-on-one scoring opportunity. Dodds kicked the ball away, but the sequence was indicative of the pressure Martinez and the Eagles put on Fauquier's defense all night.

"He works very hard in the weight room, so he's very strong," McLeod said of Martinez. "And he's very intelligent, and he just gives so much effort on the field. … I marvel at his stamina because he just works his butt off for 80 minutes."

With the win, the Eagles improved to 4-3-1 in Conference 22 and stand in third place. Fauquier, meanwhile, dropped to 2-4-1 in conference play.

The Falcons entered Friday having won three of their past four matches and having scored three goals in each of those victories. That momentum didn't carry over to the match against Liberty.

"We were just communicating better the last few games," Nigh said. "Our wins came from finishing opportunities rather than passing around too much and getting the ball taken away."

Many of Fauquier's passes Friday were slightly errant, especially in the midfield, and at times the Falcons appeared uninspired to chase after those balls.

"Out-hustling them was our biggest factor," Munson said. "I think [Fauquier] looked lackadaisical running for the ball, at least compared to some of our players."

"I think that had to do with our formation," Nigh said.

Fauquier played the first half in a 4-5-1 formation before switching to a 4-4-2 look in the second half.

"We just couldn't find the forward" in the 4-5-1 formation, he said. "We just couldn't find the forwards' feet" to create offense.

Malik Lowe scored the Falcons’ lone goal with 24:38 remaining in the second half. He gathered the ball after a Liberty defender deflected an Aaron Getman shot set up by a pass from Chuck Okeke, but the goal narrowed Fauquier’s deficit to only 3-1.

Fauquier did manage to out-shoot Liberty. The Falcons took 18 shots (seven on goal) to the Eagles' 15 (seven on goal) but many missed the goal by a wide margin.

"I really don't know," Nigh said. "It was just a rough night."

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