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Pitched battles

Liberty freshman striker Gustavo Romero is one of two Liberty players, along with senior midfielder Pedro Garcia, to be leading scorers in Section 9. Liberty began this week at 8-0 (2-0 OCIAA) sharing the division lead with Burke. Liberty is ranked 11th in the state in Class B. They lost to O’Neill and must play Burke this week in a league clash.
Photo by Nick Piatek, sportsinsightsny.com

By Richard Ross
October 4, 2012

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Whereas football is king of the fall in terms of headlines, crowds, chatter and popularity, fútbol, aka soccer, rules in terms of sheer volume of games played as both boys and girls teams have 16-game schedules, which can be extended for those teams that qualify for the postseason. But make no mistake, it’s quality, not quantity, which makes the world’s most popular sport equally riveting on the local scene.

For the Liberty boys team, beginning this week with a sterling 8-0 (2-0 OCIAA) record, it’s not just about returning to post season play. They want to win it all. Losing to O’Neill 3-0 in the first round of the 2011 Class B sectionals, a game that completed the Raiders’ three-game sweep of the Indians, has caused this year’s squad to marshal vigor and zeal. The Indians sent a message to the Raiders on September 10 with a 7-3 home win in which freshman striker Gustavo Romero had the hat trick. Romero currently leads the Indians with 14 goals and three assists, followed closely by senior midfielder Pedro Garcia with nine goals and 13 assists. Garcia also had the hat trick versus O’Neill. They are the current Section 9 scoring leaders with 31 points apiece. Sophomore Brendan Siegel has five goals and five assists to date for 15 points. Liberty bested Tuxedo 3-2 in overtime on September 26.

At the start of the week, Liberty was tied for the Division IV lead with Burke as both were 2-0 in league play. At present, the Indians are ranked 11th among the state’s Class B teams. But there is no resting on the laurels of the first half of the season. Liberty lost to O’Neill 1-0 on October 1. They are home (October 3) against defending Section 9 Class B champions Burke. Burke beat Sullivan West 6-1 on October 1. Liberty travels to Burke exactly two weeks later for the rematch with the Eagles. Few teams have the balance that Liberty brings to the pitch. Of the squad’s 20 players, 17 have scored and that includes starting keeper Julian Spina, who has sent two into the net this season. Offseason play by some of the team with the Liberty United Soccer Club has prevented a drop off in skills and conditioning.

In Class C boys soccer action this past week, Fallsburg 4-5 (2-3 OCIAA) defeated Tri-Valley 0-8 (0-5 OCIAA) 2-0 under the lights in Grahamsville. The Comets got goals from Leo Espinoza and Felix Martinez.