The District 128 Soccer Showdown

The Libertyville varsity boys soccer team takes a group photo in front of the goal to celebrate a hard-fought last home game of the season.

The Libertyville varsity boys soccer team takes a group photo in front of the goal to celebrate a hard-fought last home game of the season.

In the last home game of the season, the Libertyville boys varsity soccer team prepared to face off against the Vernon Hills Cougars on October 13th, 2022. Both the Wildcats and the Cougars came into the game with high spirits, regardless of the fact that the Wildcats had lost two straight games against Carmel and Stevenson the week before. In fact, the team seemed to be higher and on point more than ever! This game was a hard-fought battle over which cat would claw their way to the top, but no one expected the prolonged stalemate that would put both teams’ minds and bodies to the test.

The game began with the ball in the control of the Wildcats, giving them the first possession of the game and the advantage at the beginning of the game. Once the ball was in play, it was a free-for-all! While the Wildcats gained a significant amount of ground, the Cougars quickly took advantage on their side of the field and managed to turn the tables around, giving themselves a goal in the process.

Now with the game 0-1, the Wildcats attempted to keep pushing themselves and their teammates to keep going, knowing that this was only the start of the game. “I always just try to be positive and encourage everybody else on the field,” said senior captain Alex Leroy (24). “Whether it’s through just doing my own thing and scoring, or assisting people, or just  talking, making sure everybody’s energized throughout the game.”

Ultimately, the first half ended with the ball in the hands of the Cougars, but the Wildcats were far from through.

The second half of the game began with the soccer game in the control of Vernon Hills, giving them an even better advantage than before, though it didn’t last very long. Almost immediately, the Wildcats presented themselves with an overbearing amount of force, becoming much more brutal with their kicks. This kind of force is what led senior captain Leroy to score a goal on the Cougars, prompting the first chance at a stalemate of the game with the Wildcats and the Cougars tied 1-1. 

From there, both sides showed superb offensive plays and defensive maneuvers that persisted throughout the majority of the game, with both sides using all the energy they had to continue pushing themselves in order to keep the others back. It wasn’t until the Wildcats made a fatal error on the field that cost them another goal by Vernon Hills, putting the Cougars up 1-2.

Despite Vernon Hills’ relentless pursuit of victory over the Wildcats, the morale in the stands, on the field, and on the sidelines ran high. The Wildcats found themselves pushing harder than before, with the desire to at least get one goal to tie the whole game. There were multiple close calls made by the Wildcats and the Cougars, including saves from corner kicks, headbutts, and strong kicks toward the goals. Soon, there were mere minutes left in the game, with both sides showing no clear advance toward another’s goal. It wasn’t until senior Felix Amyot (13) found a loophole within the Cougars and gave enough momentum with the support of his teammates to score the goal that set in stone the stalemate of the Libertyville Wildcats and the Vernon Hills Cougars at 2-2.

After the game, much of the team confided that they had wished the game could have gone better, with some even stating that their biggest mistakes on the field today were the very opportunities the Cougars took to score the two goals on the Wildcats. Regardless, the Wildcats didn’t take too much time to think about their mistakes and instead talked about what went well. They knew they had an amazing defense that saved them many great balls and took much praise to their offensive lineup who were the ones who gave them the stalemate with the Cougars in the first place.

“Obviously we’d won a victory to draw with Vernon Hills,” Head Coach Kevin Thunholm said. “They’re a very good team. We fought back. We made two errors. They scored two goals off of both of those. We scored two really good goals. We’ve been struggling to score goals and we got the two that we needed to, you know, get equaI. I think we had the better play in the last 30 minutes. We missed some opportunities to score, but we were right there. I think we’re playing really well right now and we’re getting healthy. I think they get a lot of confidence going on.”