Breaking News Bar
updated: 11/3/2017 11:07 PM

Boys soccer: Libertyville's back in state title game

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Libertyville's Ryan Wittenbrink scores a first-period goal to tie Friday's Class 3A state semifinal game against Bradley-Bourbonnais at Hoffman Estates High School on Friday.

      Libertyville's Ryan Wittenbrink scores a first-period goal to tie Friday's Class 3A state semifinal game against Bradley-Bourbonnais at Hoffman Estates High School on Friday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Tanner Kelly goes over Bradley-Bourbonnais player Bryson George in the first period of Class 3A state semifinal play Friday at Hoffman Estates High School.

      Libertyville's Tanner Kelly goes over Bradley-Bourbonnais player Bryson George in the first period of Class 3A state semifinal play Friday at Hoffman Estates High School.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Evan Rasmussen tries to maintain possession against Bradley-Bourbonnais in the first period of Class 3A state semifinal play Friday at Hoffman Estates High School

      Libertyville's Evan Rasmussen tries to maintain possession against Bradley-Bourbonnais in the first period of Class 3A state semifinal play Friday at Hoffman Estates High School
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Evan Rasmussen celebrates his tiebreaking goal in the second period against Bradley-Bourbonnais in Class 3A boys soccer state semifinal action at Hoffman Estates High School on Friday.

      Libertyville's Evan Rasmussen celebrates his tiebreaking goal in the second period against Bradley-Bourbonnais in Class 3A boys soccer state semifinal action at Hoffman Estates High School on Friday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville players celebrate their 2-1 victory over Bradley-Bourbonnais in the Class 3A state semifinals Friday at Hoffman Estates High School on Friday.

      Libertyville players celebrate their 2-1 victory over Bradley-Bourbonnais in the Class 3A state semifinals Friday at Hoffman Estates High School on Friday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Ryan Wittenbrink celebrates the Wildcats' 2-1 victory over Bradley-Bourbonnais on Friday at Hoffman Estates High School.

      Libertyville's Ryan Wittenbrink celebrates the Wildcats' 2-1 victory over Bradley-Bourbonnais on Friday at Hoffman Estates High School.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Libertyville's Evan Rasmussen celebrates his tiebreaking goal with teammates in the second period against Bradley-Bourbonnais in the Class 3A state semifinals Friday at Hoffman Estates High School.

      Libertyville's Evan Rasmussen celebrates his tiebreaking goal with teammates in the second period against Bradley-Bourbonnais in the Class 3A state semifinals Friday at Hoffman Estates High School.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent

Expectations have run high for Libertyville since the start of the boys soccer season.

The Wildcats haven't disappointed, and now they're one win away from their second state championship in three years.

Libertyville produced a come-from behind effort to get past Bradley-Bourbonnais 2-1 in the Class 3A state semifinals at Hoffman Estates on Friday night.

It sets up a title game of the last two Class 3A state champions, as Libertyville (20-0-2) will play defending state champ Naperville North (26-1-1) at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Huskies shut out St. Charles North 2-0 in the other semifinal.

Indiana-bound forward Ryan Wittenbrink and junior goalkeeper Thomas Pearson are the only remaining members of Libertyville's 2015 title team.

"We've gone through a gauntlet to get here," Wildcats first-year coach Kevin Thunholm said. "Each team that we've played (in the state tournament), even Highland Park (in the regional opener), gave us a battle in the first half. These guys have all played good games before. Ryan talked to them on how big it is, how cool it is, how exciting it is and the different speed. Even Thomas, who sat on the bench (two years ago as a freshman), talked about how special it was and how it's a different beast. I think that fueled the fire. Everybody wanted to be a part of it."

The Wildcats had constant pressure on Bradley-Bourbonnais early on, but Boilermakers keeper Andrew Seyden (11 saves) turned away shot after shot.

Bradley-Bourbonnais (18-4-1) scored in the fifth minute on its first quality chance. Efrain Davilla III notched his 53rd assist of the season when his free kick was headed in by Nickolas Markanich, whose goal was his 41st.

Libertyville's persistence finally paid off in the 27th minute. Greg Krikorian sent a free kick toward the goal, where Wittenbrink knocked in a half-volley for his 39th of the season.

"I got the goal and it was a good goal," Wittenbrink said. "It got us going and got us fired up. We responded and the rest of the first half we did pretty well. We played in their end and created a lot of chances."

Evan Rasmussen scored the game-winner in the 61st minute with a strike from 25 yards out off a feed from Riley Hoff.

"(Bradley-Bourbonnais) was sagging off me in the second half," said Rasmussen, whose goal was his 18th. "I had space almost every time. I had to stretch for the ball, but I got it. I had time for the shot, and it was a good one."

The Boilermakers, which placed third in the state last year, played without two starters who were lost in the supersectional on Tuesday. They returned numerous players from last year's squad.

"We had to make adjustments at halftime and finally finished," Thunholm said. "It's still sinking in. I'm very proud of these guys for completing the task that they came out here for. Bradley-Bourbonnais had a plan in place. They scared us. They played well."

Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.