Girls soccer: Libertyville closes out season with third-place finish at state
This season was one to remember for Libertyville's girls soccer team. The Wildcats finished in a three-way tie in the North Suburban Conference with Stevenson and Warren. Then, a run through the regionals, sectionals and a supersectional victory over New Trier.
Libertyville made its first state trip in 20 years and lost a tough one in the semifinals to O'Fallon. But, the Wildcats did something they haven't achieved this postseason.
It was a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Barrington in the Class 3A third-place match at Fremd High School on Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats finished their run with an 18-2 record, while Barrington ended 17-3-2.
"Just the true grit and the resilience that this team has," Libertyville coach Daniel De Paz said. "We've been down in other games and come back to win. One of the toughest games has to be the third-place games. Your hopes are in the state championship game. You lose and you have to come back in less than 24 hours later, still play and play hard. I think that shows you, the girls that we have the grit and resiliency, they went down 1-0 and to come back with two goals. That speaks volumes of the kids we have on this team.
"It means everything. We would rather play in the title game. But I think the reward of getting third in state, how many other teams, other players other coaches would like to be in this position? It's something that we're happy and proud even though we lost the semifinal."
Wildcats' junior forward Lauren Rocco has realized with the rest of the team that the hard work did pay off.
"It was a good ending to our season," Rocco said. "We wanted to go out with a win and while we couldn't get it done (Friday), we're so happy to get it. It also means so much as a state championship or second place."
Barrington opened the scoring off a set piece in the in the 52nd minute. Kate McGreevy scored on a header off a Brooke Brown corner kick.
Libertyville responded four minutes later with a set piece of its own. Sally Grace Rogers knocked in the tying goal off a Riley Brennan free kick.
The Wildcats' Avery Gleason, no stranger to game-winning goals, took a pass from Jenna Krakowski and made a move in the box and found the far corner for a 2-1 lead in the 62nd minute.
"I took a touch and saw where the goalie was," Gleason said. "I just went the opposite way that she was going. From that angle, most people wouldn't shoot it, it was an awkward angle. I was just able to get it outside of her. Getting this goal, might have been the best goal of my life."
Libertyville beat Barrington twice this season, including a 1-0 regular-season victory.
For Barrington, it's been a season of being together on and off the field. The Fillies were going after a state trophy and wanted to give a chance for each player to be a part of it all.
"Honestly, this is not what both teams really are," Barrington coach Ryan Stengren said. "I had a different mindset going into it. I wanted everyone that's worked hard over the whole year a chance to be on the field. So, we got everyone into the game. If we were going after it in a different way, we still wanted to win the game. We have been really good against set pieces this year. We did give ourselves a chance to win and proud of our effort. In my mind, it was celebrating the whole year."