Libertyville ties Waukegan in conference thriller


Matt Smith

Libertyville players celebrate, after a goal by Greg Krokorian in the second half.

In what Chicagoland Soccer called “the biggest regular season game of the year,” Libertyville and the Waukegan Bulldogs tied 1-1 on Thursday night, winning them each a share of the North Suburban Conference title.

The Wildcats came into the game ranked number one in the Chicagoland Soccer rankings; Waukegan was number six. Libertyville is now 11-0-2, while Waukegan is 13-2-2.

It was a different game for Libertyville than most they have played this season, as they fell behind by a goal early. The game was also very physical: “They were kind of going after me a lot, but you know every team is going to be doing that, so I think I just got to get used to it a little more,” said junior goalkeeper Thomas Pearson.

It began to get so physical that Libertyville Head Coach Kevin Thunholm had a conversation with the referees at halftime.

“It was a physical game, so I just wanted to make sure everyone was going to be safe, even-Steven,” said Thunholm. “I thought they controlled the game, I mean it was a big crowd, a lot of physical players, a lot of bodies flying around. I was just trying to make sure everyone was going to be safe.”

The game was held at McAree Park in Waukegan, an all-grass field, which is a lot slower field than regular turf, which Libertyville is used to playing on.

“It’s just the bounces aren’t as true, it’s a little slower, it’s a shorter field, so it’s a completely different game that we’re used to playing,” said Thunholm.

Waukegan played their style most of the game, which played to their advantage.  

“Today was definitely kick ball. They’re playing the ball direct every time,  so if we learn to cope with that, then I think we will do well,” said Pearson.

Libertyville tied the game late in the second half on a goal from senior Greg Krikorian. The goal was a deep shot from the middle of the field, and right over the goalie.  After a slide tackle by Waukegan in the goalie box, the Wildcats had an opportunity to take the lead with a penalty kick from senior Ryan Wittenbrink, but he did not connect.

There were many other opportunities for Libertyville to take the lead, but due to the late-game efforts by the Waukegan defense, the game remained tied.

Libertyville will look to return to its winning ways on Saturday, Oct. 7, at Andrew High School at 8:30 a.m.