Libertyville earns spot in NSC title matchup
A victory for Libertyville's boys soccer team Thursday against Stevenson would have earned the Wildcats a berth in next week's North Suburban Conference championship game.
They didn't get the win.
Libertyville did, however, capture their berth in the conference title match. The host Wildcats settled for a 1-1 tie against the Patriots in the NSC Lake finale, and coupled with Lake Zurich playing host Warren to a 0-0 draw Thursday night, Libertyville (9-3-1, 4-1-1) gets to play in the NSC championship game against Prairie Division champ Round Lake (12-2, 6-0). The Panthers will host the game at 6:15 p.m. next Wednesday.
"It's typical of our division," Libertyville coach Andy Bitta said. "It doesn't matter what kind of year you're having. It's tough to push through and we're very fortunate to do it"
"We tried (to win), but we didn't have the effort," Bitta added. "We looked stale and we looked tired. Just not aggressive enough. Stevenson did a good job. Once they scored, they packed it back and did a god job protecting the goal."
Stevenson (7-4-2, 2-2-1) scored in the fourth minute of the match, as Ben Brandt tallied his second goal of the season off an assist from Kuzuki Niimi.
"It was a great combo play in the middle," Brandt said. "Libertyville is an excellent possession team. We counterattacked very well. Kuzuki sent a great ball and the goalie was out of position. We just hit them with speed and smart passing."
Libertyville pulled even in the 46th minute when Tucker Goebeler wove through the Patriots defense after getting a pass from Nate Edmunds and found the back of the net.
"I saw the opening and made the run through," Goebeler said. "Nate gave me a great ball and I was able to smash it in near post."
Stevenson hit a shot off the crossbar in the second half and had a few other good looks.
"We're playing with great depth," Stevenson coach Mark Schartner said. "We got a chance to play a lot of players. It really was an amazing team effort. I thought we might have been a little unlucky too. It was a good game. We've played well all year."