By SHAWN YORKS
• Daily Leader
For Lori Navarro and the Liberal High School boys soccer team, the goal every year is the same as everybody else’s — win the state championship.
Navarro has guided her Redskins to the state tournament seven of the program’s 13 seasons, with two state runner-up finishes (2003 and 2005).
The Redskins are on the brink of the program’s eighth state tournament berth, which they will earn with a win over Wichita Bishop Carroll tonight. And while making it to the state tournament is the obvious objective, Navarro and the Redskins are not looking past the Eagles. She takes a one-game-at-a-time attitude.
“We have to take it one game at a time,” Navarro said. “If we look too far ahead of where we’re at, somebody’s going to sneak in and beat us.
“The state championship is our goal, it’s anybody’s goal. But in order to reach that goal we’ve got to take care of everything in front of us.”
The Eagles (7-11) have two playoff upsets to their credit already this post-season — a 2-1 win over Hays last Tuesday and a 2-0 win over Newton on Thursday night. Liberal (14-1-3) easily dispatched of Wichita West (10-0) and squeezed past McPherson (1-0) during its playoff run.
The Redskins can’t take Carroll lightly despite its sub-.500 record. Navarro honestly doesn’t know much about the Eagles.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t faced them this season, nor have we been anywhere where they have played,” Navarro said. “We call them the mystery team.”
Hays was the No. 2 seed in the region when Carroll knocked them off in the first round.
“They’re definitely coming in here with momentum,” Navarro said. “They’re coming in here believing that they can win after upsetting some of the top teams in the playoffs.”
The Eagles are known for their skilled players who do most of the scoring.
“We’re going to have to be very careful with them,” Navarro said. “We’ve got to be on the balls of our feet because — just like McPherson — we need to not take any team for granted right now. When it’s the playoffs, anything can happen.
“I look for them to give us a challenge, I look for them to come come in here with a lot of confidence to take us down based on the fact that they’ve been doing that so far.”
As for that McPherson game, the Redskins were on the attack most of the night, but only managed one goal against Bullpups goalie Brice Thrower, who was one of the better goal keepers the Redskins have seen.
“Credit to their goal keeper, he was a phenomenal goal keeper,” Navarro said. “Our only chance was to put them low and hard and obviously we didn’t do our job. Once you recognize that he’s a good goalie up above the hips then you’ve got to start shooting low. And that’s something that we didn’t do very well.”
Not knowing much about the Carroll goal keeper will make life difficult for the Redskins tonight.
“We have to be able to assess where his strength is and we’ve got to be able to attack his weaknesses.”
A win tonight sends Liberal to the state tournament, where it’s guaranteed at least two more games.
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