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Liberty Panthers take Bi-district Championship!

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    Jaime Lopez of Liberty centers this ball at Memorial Stadium on Friday night in Bi-district action against Lumberton.
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    Liberty's Alberto Diaz tries to get the ball away from a Lumberton player on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.

The playoffs bring out a different type of excitement in sports. That was no different on Friday night at Memorial Stadium as the Liberty Panthers got to host a playoff game against Lumberton, and for all in attendance, they saw a game in which neither team deserved to lose. After both squads played 100 minutes of exhilarating soccer, it came down to penalty kicks and Liberty was better in penalty kicks 5-3 in taking the Bi-district Championship over the Raiders 2-1 in a 4-A Region III contest. "We knew it was going to be tough," said a worn-out Joe Roberts. "I'm just glad this was something we had already worked on earlier during the season said the Panthers Head Coach. Even though regulation saw no scoring, there was plenty of excitement. Lumberton had the first good look of the night at the 27th minute and then Liberty's Alejandro Montes had a shot in the 38th minute as both teams went to the half scoreless. The Raiders had another look in the 55th minute and then the Panthers Bryan Montes shot-on-goal was just high eight minutes later. With only 22 seconds left in regulation, Lumberton almost won it, but their shot hit the post and just missed. The game then moved into two 10-minute halves. Liberty needed only six minutes into the first OT, with Alberto Diaz making a great move and scoring to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. Three minutes later, the Raiders evened the score at 1-apiece with a goal of their own. Liberty had excellent chances in the second OT as Montes and Ricardo Garcia each had good looks at goal, but neither could find the mark. The game then came down to five members for the Raiders and Panthers taking part in penalty kicks. Liberty's five of Jaime Lopez, Montez, Diaz, Abdiel Garcia, and Angel Ruiz all scored while Lumberton missed their second chance and the Panthers were on the way to the Area Championship. The Panthers advance to the next round to face Columbia.