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Last year, Liberty North junior Cade Maloney worked through a slew of defenders during a Class 4 District 15 soccer semifinals game against Park Hill South.

LIBERTY — Eagles boys soccer coach Art Smith and his team fought the good fight last year, but many trying circumstances added up to a difficult playing season. This year, Smith hopes to see that turn around.

“We lost about half a dozen starters from last year and had at least six to seven starters injured for every conference game we played,” he said. “We were also pretty young, so it was a combination of things that got us.”

Last year’s record of 4-13 and a conference record of 1-12 did not reflect the players’ hearts, Smith explained.

“We’ll be returning a few players that should be solid performers for us including junior Carson Schmitt, senior Cade Maloney, sophomore Jack Watson and senior Jackson Leeth to name a few,” he said.

Schmitt took honorable mention in all-conference last season. He plays center back in the midfield. Watson also made honorable mention all-conference as a midfielder. Leeth, a forward, took second team all-district.

“These players should be my heavy contributors this year,” Smith said.

As with any team just getting started, Smith figures his Eagles will make some impact this year.

“We have a number of players that we hope will make a strong contribution this season. We’re still working to figure that out and what the right combination will be,” he said.

Smith hopes tough seasons with long-term injuries to key players are in the past. However, highs and lows come with the game that he has been coaching for 12 years.

“We also had a tougher conference schedule, but we’re all ready to work pretty hard to get back on track and have a good season that resembles the ones we’ve been able to have up to this point,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good group of young players that we can build around for the next couple years.”

Smith said he seeks players to step in and make up for the lack of varsity experience after losing more than half a dozen to graduation.

“We’ve got an opening season Harrisonville tourney that always gives us the chance to figure some things out and play good teams. We also travel to Springfield for a tournament that should be really good competition,” the coach said. “All of our conference games are with good teams and will be crucial games for us.”

The first home game will be 7 p.m. Sept. 15 against Park Hill.

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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