For his many years of service and time spent on the sidelines coaching -- 40 of them, all told -- Al Beard was recognized for his efforts by Libertyville High School on Saturday afternoon with a plaque.
The presentation took place right before a North Suburban Conference boys soccer crossover match, in which Round Lake topped Libertyville 4-1.
In recent seasons, Beard has been an assistant coach for the boys at Libertyville and an assistant in the girls program at Vernon Hillls.
"To me there's no better job than being a soccer coach," Beard said. "It's great people, here working with Andy (Bitta) at Libertyville and Vince Deluca at Vernon Hills. I hope to keep working at it."
Beard started playing soccer at Maine East High School in Park Ridge and extended his playing days as a goalkeeper at Northern Illinois before graduating in 1973.
He started coaching high school soccer at Maine East after college before becoming a coach at now-closed Forest View High School between 1974 and 1986. He also helped coach the Hersey girls program until 2007 and the at Buffalo Grove boys from 2002-2007.
In his head coaching days, Beard compiled an overall record of 207-73. He earned coach of the year honors in 1978 and was inducted into the High School Soccer Coaches Association Hall of Fame, in additiion to spending eight years on the sport's IHSA advisory board.
"There were a lot of great memories over the years," Beard said. "From taking third in state in 1978 to coaching great players like Tommy Soehn, coaching with Brian McBride. I was just blessed to be around so many good people over the years."
On Saturday, Round Lake (15-2-1) some recognition for itself, getting one first-half goal from Raul Albor and another from Alejandro Sotelo, in the third minute and right before the half-hour mark. Fernando Sotelo assisted on the opening goal.
"We're winning games, and it's a new experience to me," said Albor, who scored his ninth goal of the season. "It has a lot to do with the combination, the chemistry. We've grown up together, knowing one another. All of us have been waiting for this day, to play for Round Lake."
Libertyville (8-7) got a goal back a minute later when Alex Stiber connected with a header off a free kick from Trey Toohey.
The Panthers added two more goals in the second half. Freddy Ramirez tallied with an assist from his brother Eddie, and Marcos Avelar had the other goal, assisted by Josh Guzman.
"This victory helps us to prepare for the playoffs," said Round Lake coach Hugo Tellez, whose team earned the No. 6 seed in the highly competitive Mundelein sectional and is the first team in Lake County to reach 15 wins. "We had other guys that stepped up. We just took it to (LIbertyville) like it was playing for the conference."
Libertyville was hampered by a number of injuries. The Wildcats are without starting goalkeeper Sam Muchmore, who is out for the rest of the season. Back-up keeper Alec Schory also missed the game.
"We can't do things when we don't have the players," Libertyville coach Andy Bitta said. "We were missing six starters by the end of this game. It's tough to play that way. We just have to get healthy."