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."