The Liberty-Madera Ranchos High girls soccer team has mastered another Central Section playoff division.
Behind goals from Haylee Hoelzel and Lauren Alexander, the third-seeded Hawks captured their fourth section title across three divisions in the past nine years with a 2-1 defeat of top-seeded East Bakersfield on Thursday in the Division III final. Liberty won the D-IV title in 2012 and scored D-V crowns in 2010 and 2007.
Alexander scored what proved to be the winning goal unassisted in the 31st minute. It came 13 minutes after East's Cee Cee Butler sped past the defense for her 55th goal of the season. That promoted a strategy change from Hawks coach Erick Walker, who had his defenders play back to guard against Butler's breakaway ability.
"We wanted them to play really conservative and stay back instead of trying to push everything," Walker said. "That speed, if she gets the timing right, she's gone, which happened."
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Hoelzel scored her 18th goal of the season and 30th of her career in the 4th minute off an assist from Raina Wristen to get Liberty (19-3-2) out to a quick start against the Blades (23-1-5). Maritza Rivera (three) and Allison Saether (six) combined for nine saves.
Liberty lost to Central Valley Christian in the semifinals last season and to Highland in the final in 2013 during its first two seasons in D-III.
The section soccer championships continue with eight more games Friday and two Saturday.
Friday's boys matchups include No. 5 Monache at No. 3 South in D-II, No. 4 Tulare at No. 2 Dinuba in D-III, No. 2 McLane at No. 1 Washington in D-VI, No. 2 Kennedy at No. 1 McFarland in D-V and No. 4 Avenal at No. 3 Exeter in D-VI.
For the girls it is No. 9 CVC at No. 2 Madera South in D-II, No. 2 Bakersfield Christian at No. 1 Strathmore in D-IV and No. 2 McFarland at No. 1 Fowler in D-V
On Saturday in D-I, Buchanan's top-seeded girls host No. 2 Clovis North and the No. 1 boys face No. 3 Liberty-Bakersfield.