The Liberty Patriots boys soccer ended with a 1-1 draw against the Lake Washington Kangaroos on April 27.
“We played well, we had two of our top players out and guys stepped up. I’m very happy … This was a great match,” said Head Coach Darren Tremblay.
March 28 was the last time the two teams met, and Lake Washington took down the Patriots 5-0. It was a change in mentality that helped Liberty compete against the Kangs this time around.
“Our defense was way more organized … It was just our energy and attitude that helped us tonight,” Tremblay said.
In the first half, Lake Washington controlled play. They created chances and the Patriots struggled to get the ball in the dangerous areas.
The first goal came at the 25-minute mark from a Lake Washington player. Idin Fakhri sliced through the Liberty backline and found the back of the net for Lake Washington. The Kangaroos had all the momentum going into halftime.
“We just wanted to lock down number 10 (Fakhri). He’s very, very good and that kind of slowed him down. That kind of changed the flow of the game,” Tremblay said.
But in the second half, the Patriots changed the energy and brought a fire to the contest. That change came from the team.
“We were very frustrated with 1-0. The intensity was very high, the fans were motivating us … We just wanted to take all the anger and frustration out during the second half,” sophomore Kensei Sugitani said.
Liberty was able to consistently get balls into the penalty area and threaten the Lake Washington keeper in the second half.
The Patriot goal came 54 minutes into the game. After a tough penalty was given on the Liberty sideline the Patriots had their first threat in a few minutes of game time. Kensei Sugitani showed off his skill with a perfect strike into the top right corner of the goal to tie the game from 30 yards away.
WHAT A STRIKE!!
On the free kick Liberty sophomore Kensei Sugitani!
Pure class from the sophomore.
54' all squared up 1-1 pic.twitter.com/nuetEbQe5u
— Ben Ray (@bigplaybenray) April 28, 2023
Even his coach didn’t know if the shot was good, “I thought it was over, I was yelling ‘Why are you shooting that?’ Kensei is a great free-kick guy,” Tremblay said.
The goal was possible because Sugitani knew the habits of the Lake Washington goalkeeper and used that preparation and knowledge to his advantage. “I remembered he would come out and take up free space. So I knew from studying that he would come up,” Sugitani said.
Sugitani is just a sophomore, but in big games, he’s comfortable under pressure. “I don’t really feel much pressure. I have a good amount of experience. I don’t feel a lot of pressure on me, I am just very confident in myself,” he said.
In overtime, the Patriots’ momentum was slowed, and the Kangaroos were able to control the ball and had some good opportunities. But junior goalkeeper Gavin Honey made some key stops.
“He’s been outstanding. He’s kept us in games. We could have been down 2-0 against Hazen, but he saved a penalty which allowed us to get out with a tie there. He’s keeping us around,” Tremblay said.
The Patriots sit in fourth place and have a one-point advantage over the Juanita Ravens in the league. “We’re getting the chemistry right, and that’s why we’re able to get our hopes up. I think as a team we’re able to motivate each other,” Sugitani said.
Liberty’s final game of the season is against Interlake who sits one spot in front of the Pats in the standings. These types of games will help Liberty prepare for the postseason. “We really need to stay competitive … We need to keep our heads up and train. We train and work very hard. We have to keep working hard,“ Sugitani said.