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Garcia’s 71st minute goal extends Eagles’ boys soccer season

Sunday, May. 24 | By Grant Thomas
Kevin Garcia had the appropriate digits on the back of his No. 10 Liberty jersey Friday night.

The Eagles’ boys soccer team is enjoying one of its best seasons in recent memory and Garcia drew his team closer to one of its goals with the winning score in a 2-1 win over Eastern View in the Conference 22 quarterfinals.

The Eagles (8-4-4) are targeting a region playoff berth and a 10-win season -- both which would have gone out the window if Garcia hadn’t delivered a late goal in the 71st minute.

“We knew we had [won on a late goal] before, so why can’t it happen again,” Garcia said. “We gave it our all out there to make it happen.”

“Ten wins and a conference championship,” said coach Greg McLeod. “We’ve been eyeing that since the start, and we’ve stayed with it.”

Underdog Eastern View (2-13-2) kept the host Eagles’ uncomfortable for quite a while.

After Liberty grabbed a 1-0 lead on Jon Faulds’ goal in the fourth minute, Eastern View tied it in the 13th minute, turning the contest into a nailbiter for LHS and Eastern View faithful.

While Liberty outshot the Cyclones 13-5, the winning goal seemed like it took forever to develop. But with about ten minutes left in regulation and overtime looming, Matt Skyner sent a well-executed through pass to Garcia who faked a pass, then shot an angled ball into the corner, beating EVHS keeper Luis Ruiz.

“I was making a run down the side,” Garcia said. “I asked for it, got the pass (from Skyner), faked and cut in, then aimed far post.”

The No. 3-seeded Eagles held on for the final nine minutes to set up Tuesday’s showdown with No. 2 Chancellor for a region berth.

Eastern View coach Leo Legora said Garcia - a dangerous forward who also plays attacking midfielder- was the center of his defense’s attention, with defender Anthony Rojo assigned to shadow Garcia. “Our plan was to negate [Garcia’s] playmaking abilities with a strong mark,” Legora said. “Rojo was the designated marker, and he did a great job, until he wasn’t there when they found an opening.”

“Garcia was at the top near the end to generate more pressure,” McLeod said. “It was to finish it in regulation, we did not want to go to overtime or penalty kicks.”

Given the one-goal win, Faulds' goal was equally vital. A left back, Faulds is not normally a scoring threat, but early in the game he found the ball at his feet after running up behind the offense. Faulds catapulted a perfectly lofted shot over the goalkeeper from 30 yards out.

“Great way to start the game off. Neither team is expecting that shot to go in,” Faulds said. “It just fell at the right angle, in the right place.”

Holcombe’s tying goal for Eastern View was equally surprising: it was the Cyclones’ first goal in four games. While Eastern View finished a rough campaign, losing 13 games for the second year in a row, Legora’s squad went down with a fight. “I’m proud of them,” said Legora. “No matter the team, no matter the odds, they’ve always given everything they’ve got.”

Liberty, meanwhile, is preparing for the fight of its life. Beat Chancellor and the Eagles will accomplish their publicly-declared goal of making regionals. The game is Tuesday, May 26 at Chancellor. The teams split in the regular season. Liberty won the season opener 3-2 at Chancellor way back on March 17.

Chancellor won in Bealeton more recently, taking down the Eagles 2-1 on April 24.

“This team can do it, every game,” McLeod said. “If they stay with the game plan and never give up, we have a good chance of achieving our goals.”

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