A heated rivalry?
Even without hot weather, that aptly describes the Stevenson-Libertyville boys soccer rivalry. The steamy temperatures Tuesday only seemed to raise the intensity.
Stevenson entered the match a leg up on Libertyville in recent history, with a sectional final victory last year and the program's first trip to the Class 3A Final Four; the Patriots finished in fourth place.
Libertyville, though, has the early advantage this season after a 2-0 victory in a North Suburban Lake Division opener at the Libertyville Township Soccer Complex.
Thomas Vondrak and Ricky Mundane both scored their first goals of the season for the Wildcats (2-2, 1-0). Libertyville played without two key forwards. Lloyd Chatfield and Nick Vogal. Both are out with injuries.
"This was our best game of the year," Libertyville coach Andy Bitta said. "Maybe it was the rivalry. But we did what we had to do to win. We had two real nice goals. And we did it without two of our leading scorers back from last year."
The Wildcats got on the board early in the first half when Vondrak scored after taking control of a cross from Ryan Pacholski in the 10th minute.
"It was a good play by Pacholski," Vondrak said. "I just put the ball down off my chest, made a move inside and then hit it with my left foot."
Libertyville's Mundane scored off a free kick from Liam O'Connell in the 54th minute, sending a header into the netting on the near side.
"I saw a defender on me," Mundane said. "Liam (O'Connell) played a great ball in to me. I took a couple steps forward, ran into it and put it into the corner.
"It was important to get the win going against Stevenson, because they beat us last year and took us out."
Stevenson (3-2-1, 0-1) had its own chances to score throughout and kept pushing for a tying goal until Libertyville made it a 2-goal advantage.
"Obviously, at the beginning (Libertyville) wanted it more than us," said Stevenson midfielder Ethan Marx . "But toward the second half, we did play much better. I still thought we could've won the game. The second goal took something out of us and we slowed down."
Wildcats keeper Sam Muchmore earned a clean sheet and made 6 stops.
The Patriots, meanwhile, will chalk it up as an afternoon of progress for its youthful roster.
"We expect to have games like these," Stevenson coach Mark Schartner said. "This is one of my youngest teams. I'm not really disappointed. I thought Libertyville played great and I honestly believe that we played well enough to win that game.
"We did some good stuff out there, but we didn't finish anything. No disappointment -- just learning."