Libertyville's boys soccer team took another step toward a North Suburban Lake Division title on Thursday night -- a spot that has eluded the Wildcats for almost 10 years.
LIbertyville exploded with 3 goals in seven minutes late in the first half and held on for a 3-2 victory over visiting Warren.
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"We just played so well," Libertyville coach Andy Bitta said. "We came out, played smart and knew that we could score on (Warren).
"Second half, we wanted to play defense."
The Wildcats (12-2-1, 4-0-1) are now the front-runners in the Lake and need only a win or tie at Lake Zurich on Tuesday night to clinch hosting Round Lake in the North Suburban Championship game Thursday night.
Stevenson (12-3-1, 4-1-1) still has a shot to host -- but only if the Bears pull off a win over Libertyville. That would title a tie-breaker in the Patriots' favor.
"It's great that we have a chance to do it," said Andy Bitta of the upcoming big game. "We haven't done it since I've come back. That's because the division is so tough each year."
Libertyville's Lloyd Chatfield opened the scoring in the 27th minute. Ryan McKenzie netted a free kick five minutes later. And then Austin Bitta, on a swift move, beat a Warren defender after a Chatfield lead pass.
"It was boom-boom-boom," Andy Bitta said. "We've got great speed. I don't think anyone is as fast as us. We can counter, and that's the way we've been playing lately.
"We've learned not to trying build so much. It's quickly get up front and let's go with it. Our speed is really devastating for other teams."
Warren (13-4-3, 4-2) made a second-half comeback and a great attempt to tie it up.
Rafa Macias netted a goal in the 62nd minute off a Sean Kirwan assist. Then Timmy Pieper brought the Blue Devils within 1 from Tony Severini's touch pass.
Wildcats keeper Alec Schory made 6 stops, including a few from point-blank range in holding back Warren in the second half. Kevin Calamari made 3 saves in the first half.
"We knew (Warren) was going to push everybody up," said Andy Bitta, who ran a 5-4-1 formation in the second half. "Warren had some nice opportunities to put some goals away.
"Our defense played very well, and our keepers played exceptional."
For Warren, trying to handle the quickness of the Wildcats was more than a challenge.
"(Libertyville's) counter-attack is the best by far that we've seen," Warren coach Jason Ahonen said. "It's just that they are so quick and they bust out. My hat's off to (Libertyville) and the way they played.
"We could've packed it in for the second half, but we played until the whistle. I give a lot of credit to (Libertyville keeper Schory) for being in the right spots. We've got to be a little more patient with our placement and go from there."