INDIANAPOLIS -- Liberty Christian ran out of time trying to execute a comeback from down 2-0 early in the second half against Faith Christian at the Class 1A boys soccer regional semifinal Saturday morning.
The offensive attack of Faith early kept Liberty busy and had the Lions playing on their heels from the start. Liberty struggled to muster up much offense in the first 40 minutes as the ball was in its own territory frequently. The Lions' defense held strong until junior forward Eli Pendley scored on a penalty kick with 56.6 seconds left in the first half to give Faith the lead 1-0 at the break.
Coach DJ Callahan rallied his group and would not let his resilient club go away. The Lions looked like a different team even after giving up another goal to go down 2-0 in the 49th minute. Liberty had a higher volume of offensive output, was able to move the ball into opposing territory and played with greater intensity throughout the second period.
“First half was flat, not a lot of dangerous plays, not a lot of creativity,” said Callahan. “Second half we played like we should. We played like normal. We got it put back together.”
That greater second half aggressiveness led to a penalty kick for the Lions with 5:19 left to play for senior Josh Cabello. He was up for the challenge and narrowed the margin to 2-1. Unfortunately, with Faith playing keepaway, changing field position and doing its best to milk the clock, the Lions ran out of time and were unable to create many more scoring opportunities.
With that second half goal for Cabello, he will leave the program with the school record for goals in a season with 21. Even after achieving a difficult personal accomplishment, Cabello couldn’t help but thank others and praise his teammates.
“It feels great,” Cabello said. “To be in this position, first and foremost I have to thank God for the opportunity and my teammates especially. They pushed me to get better everyday in practice. It’s just a great feeling.”
Callahan had nothing but praise for the senior.
“Josh is amazing," Callahan said. "I’ve loved four years with him. We’ve seen him go from a young guy who’s always been big and strong, to a big strong, smart soccer player. He’s so skilled. He’s put in the work to get to that level. Today he showed what he’s capable of.”
After Saturday’s defeat, the Lions will look forward to next season after finishing 2020 with the most wins in program history at 14-4. They are losing nine seniors from the roster, but they aren’t worried. Callahan and athletic director Jason Chappell are confident in what the future holds for this program.
“We have a really good crew,” Callahan said. "We have a really strong junior class and a couple really strong sophomores as well. We should be competitive next year, too.”
Chappell reaffirmed Callahan’s thoughts and didn’t shy away from his belief in the program or praise for his coach.
“You know, I think every year we are going to have a decent program," Chappell said. "I think we’re going to be strong next year. We have a good feeder system. Soccer has been around Liberty for a while, and I think we will continue to compete. DJ is great, his coaching staff, too. They’re just so positive. They love the kids, the kids love them and they’re great role models. I don’t get any complaints about them, and they're coaches I want to keep around for a long time.”