East and Skyridge were feeling out each other as the first half progressed until lightning struck for the Leopards.
East striker Charlie Barta pounced on a turnover deep in Skyridge’s end of the field. She shook loose one defender then sailed a beautiful ball over the outstretched hands of the keeper. East added three more tallies to oust the Falcons 4-0 in their Class 5A girls’ soccer playoff opener Tuesday.
“We had a lot of energy and we’re really dedicated to the game and we wanted to get things done,” Barta said. “Skyridge is a good team, and they played really well. Hopefully we can take this all the way to the finals.”
East maintained possession of the ball for the majority of the first half. Its hard work paid off in the waning moments when the Leopards erupted for a pair of goals in just two minutes. Erin Bridges and Scarlett Williams both found the back of the net as East held a commanding 3-0 lead at the intermission.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
One goal was all that was needed for East, and Charlie Barta provided it. A turnover deep in Skyridge’s end of the field was collected by Barta, who sailed the ball over the keeper’s head. It proved to be the winning goal.
But East wasn’t content to run out the clock. The Leopards continued to apply pressure to the dismay of the Falcons, who couldn’t find any offensive rhythm. That forced Skyridge to take chances at the expense of its defense, and East’s Emily Jensen found herself alone with nothing separating herself from a goal except the keeper. Jensen juked to one side and cradled the ball into the back of the net, providing an exclamation point on a dominant win.
Skyridge’s scoring chances were few and far between, but it did test East keeper Katie Liljenquist on occasion. Liljenquist proved up to the challenge, turning aside every shot. Liljenquist’s most impressive save occurred with time dwindling when she slid to kick the ball to the side and preserve the shutout.
Correction: The name of East keeper Katie Liljenquist was misspelled in an earlier version of this season.