Warren's big play lifts Liberty girls to tourney final

Warren's big play lifts Liberty girls to tourney final

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Warren's big play lifts Liberty girls to tourney final

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With statuesque playmakers Jenna O’Grady and Paris Despain garnering plenty of attention from opponents, sophomore Bailey Warren lurks almost unnoticed when the Peoria Liberty girls soccer team goes on the offensive.

Maybe it’s because she stands a full foot shorter than her senior teammates. Maybe it’s her soft speaking voice. Either way, it’s a mistake to leave her alone, as she proved on Friday morning in the semifinals of the Liberty IBN Holiday Tournament.

Warren scored the lone goal of the game, lifting Liberty into Saturday’s final on its home turf with a 1-0 victory over Glendale. Liberty will play Goodyear Millenium, a 4-3 winner vs. Buckeye Verrado in penalty kicks, for the title at 3:30 p.m.

Known as “Blue Boots” after Liberty coach Erin McRae spotted her at a summer camp in vibrant footwear, Warren’s shot from outside the box bounced over the outstretched arms of Glendale keeper Dulce Lopez and into the corner of the net. It was Warren’s first tally this year after finishing her freshman year with nine. The opening goal came with just over eight minutes left on the first half clock, off an assist from Ashley Brooks.

“They had three girls up on Jenna, two more on Paris and Blue Boots steps in and says, ‘I’ve got this,'” McRae said. “She’s just a dervish.”

Said Warren of O’Grady and Despain: “They’re really tall and really aggressive, so people watch for them more. I’m more of a secret weapon.”

Glendale (7-4) finished with a flurry, making Liberty goalie Jaclyn Michael earn the shutout. With just over a minute to play, Crystal Alvarez’s free kick was headed in the box by Jaimie Lee, and after bouncing off the turf, the ball caught the crossbar before deflecting away.

That was one of a number of chances Glendale had in the waning moments, with Crystal and Jennifer Alvarez each having clean shots, but both failed to convert.

“I really felt like we haven’t brought our A game for the last three games, and they really showed up today,” Glendale coach Stacey Crooks. “But you make a mistake defensively and that’s what happens.”

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