Good Luck

September 22nd, 2020

redskinsdodge01Erich Ortiz jumps high for a ball in the Dodge City box while AJ Ramirez prepares for the carom Tuesday night at Redskin Field. Liberal’s offense has struggled in the first three games of the season including the worst loss in school history Tuesday agaisnt Dodge City, a 7-0 shutout. Liberal will return to Redskin Field Thursday to host the Garden City Buffaloes. L&T photo/Earl WattBy EARL WATT

Leader & Times

After earning a win over Bishop Carroll last week, the Liberal Redskins returned to Liberal for the home opener but suffered the worst loss at Redskin Field, falling 7-0 to Dodge City.

The Redskins and Red Demons have battles for the Western Athletic Conference crown in recent years, but with several local athletes opting to play club soccer instead of playing for the Redskins, Liberal has had to fill spots with players gaining experience on game day, and it showed against Dodge City.

Liberal battled in the first half with an striker Alfredo Lopez being forced into duty as goalkeeper, but he was able to thwart several Red Demon attempts with impressive saves.

Liberal struggled to reach the Red Demon goal, but they did have several chances to score despite the tenacity of the Dodge City defenders.

But shots went wide or over the net, and by the time the first half ended, Dodge City had a 1-0 lead.

But the game got out of reach quickly in the second half.

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After denying Dodge City for most of the first half, the Redskin defense broke down early in the second half, and the Red Demons were able to get crossing passes to open players who were able to take point blank shots at the Liberal goal, and Dodge City pushed the lead to 3-0 in the opening moments of the second half.

Dodge City pounded the ball  into the net four more times against a struggling Redskin defense, and Liberal fell 7-0.

“We went in with a good game plan,” Liberal coach Lori Navarro said. “We knew they would be good. They are stacked and disciplined.”

Liberal competed in the first half, but Navarro said mistakes started to mount for her team in the second half.

“In the first half, we were very disorganized,” she said. “We don’t have center mids. We have freshmen working with AJ Ramirez, and we left the center part of the field wide open. They attacked us up the middle. We didn’t communicate. Give credit to Dodge for the ball skill and chemistry, but that is no reason for us to lose 7-0. After they scored their third goal, we completely shut down.”

After the Red demons took a 3-0 lead, the Redskins started to commit fatal mistakes.

“When that happens, it falls apart,” Navarro said. “I wish I had time outs. We could have got everyone back on track, especially with younger kids.”

Navarro didn’t expect to suffer such a  losss after beating Carroll.

“We played Bishop Carroll, and they pressured our defense and played well, but it was a 0-0 game, so we stayed focused. This is the first time they have been challenged and tried to come from behind, and they didn’t play like they had a chance. Three goals is still not over.”

While it was the worst loss ever at Redskin Field, Navarro believed her team could recover. 

“It is humbling as a coach to be put in the position of having your worst loss in 23 years,” she said. “The players felt terrible. They were regretful of not giving it everything and putting their heads down. We hope we will learn through this and get better by getting knocked down, and we got knocked down hard.”

How the team responds will tell what type of season Liberal will have.

“They will either look up and battle or think this is what the season will be like,” Navarro said. “As a coach, I’ve not been in this situation. I watched film all night and how to change things up. We will meet as a team and review and then be prepared for Garden.”

The last time Liberal battled Garden City in 2019, the game ended in a  draw.

“Last year Garden had a lot of young talent,” Navarro said. “They will be competitive this year.”

There are no games on the schedule that will allow for Liberal to work on adjustments. Every game is expected to be a battle.

“These boys will be challenged,” Navarro said. “Your character is tested in certain situations. How do you bounce back for a hard blow like yesterday?”

It starts by scoring goals against Garden City Thursday.

“We only had five shots on goal when we wanted 20,” Navarro said. “We haven’t scored from strikers in three games. Our offensive attack is weak.”

Shore up the mids, and Navarro knows her team will have success.

“AJ Ramirez is doing his best,” she said. “I strongly feel when we get our center mids taken care of, and our keeper has more experience, the later part of the season will be better. It will just take some time.”

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