The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

The student news publication of Libertyville High School

Drops of Ink

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A Decade of Domination

Teammates for 10 years, neighbors for seven, and best friends through it all, seniors Kevin Reilly and Liam O’Connell, or as their social media accounts read, Krylee and Lowcon, have a deep connection on and off the field.

Where it All Began:

Both of the senior boys are on the varsity soccer team at LHS and have been since freshman year, but it didn’t start there. Reilly and O’Connell have been playing travel soccer together since they were 7 years old and have been on the same team every single season.

The boys began playing on the Greater Libertyville Soccer Association (GLSA) club team in second grade, following their older brothers’ footsteps, and went on to play for the club’s select branch, FC 1974, in 2011. The two said their most memorable moment is when they won the club’s first Illinois Youth State Cup at 12 years old under coach Mike Zovistoski, who has coached them for eight years.

“I have been coaching Kevin and Liam since they were 10 years old. It has been amazing being a part of their development as a player and person over the years,” said Zovistoski.

Reilly and O’Connell have had multiple coaches throughout their youth years, but Zovistoski is the one who has mentored them the most and been with them the longest.

Under his coaching, the two have had many accomplishments, such as a State Cup, numerous trips to nationally ranked tournaments, and a continuous high level of play throughout their youth. Reilly and O’Connell’s teams have also participated in top-notch leagues, such as the Midwest Regional Premier 1 League and the U.S. Youth National League, for consecutive years.

Zovistoski expressed that his longtime players “always give 110 percent regardless if it is State Cup final or [3 on 3] in training. The game is very much a part of their fiber and that makes me extremely happy.”

For a competitive soccer player, the fall, winter, and spring seasons are always packed with tight schedules. Since the two have remained on the same squad for continuous years, they have gained an exceptional understanding of how one another plays.

Reilly joked, “I’d say there’s definitely a lot of verbal abuse, but we know it’s for the greater good and we know it’s only to make each other better.”  O’Connell then chimed in, “We know the other one can take it.”

O’Connell says it’s usually him passing the ball to Reilly and Reilly scoring the goal or Reilly passing back.

This chemistry on the field was further developed when their friendship took off. “We’ve just got that connection,” Reilly shared.

The boys also shared that almost every time they go to a restaurant, they are mistaken as brothers because of their matching curly dos and their similar personalities, which their teammates refer to as “calm.”

Despite being better players now, the boys say it was different playing as kids because they were much nicer to each other, and all players got even playing time. The competition has escalated in high school and Reilly and O’Connell have definitely earned their spots.

Varsity Veterans:

Reilly and O’Connell have participated on the varsity level of the LHS boys’ soccer program for four years now and have had many accomplishments throughout their time as teammates. Reilly is currently a captain of the team along with Tucker Goebeler, who has also been a longtime teammate of the two.

The 2012 team, which Reilly and O’Connell were a part of, won the conference and regional titles. In 2014, they won the regional title, which was during Reilly and O’Connell’s junior year.

This fall season has been a success so far as the team currently holds a record of 11-3-1, has won the NSC Conference and Lake division titles, and made it to the championship match of the largest high-school soccer tournament in the nation, the PepsiCo. Showdown.

“We just went to the Pepsi Showdown final and we’re looking to have a good state run,” said O’Connell.

The soccer team defeated Round Lake on Oct. 7, with a score of 3-2 in two overtimes, to take the North Suburban Conference Championship. Of course, it would only make sense to have their last year playing together be the most memorable; the ultimate goal for the whole team this season is to accomplish the state championship.

Head coach Andy Bitta has been leading the boys varsity soccer team all four years that Reilly and O’Connell have been present. Bitta has high praise towards the two, saying, “Coaching Kevin and Liam has been a coach’s dream; they are very coachable and work very hard in practice. Both are team players and will do anything to help the team win.”

Like Reilly and O’Connell, several other players on the varsity squad also compete on the u18 Libertyville FC 1974 club team, including senior Tucker Goebeler, who has recently committed to play college soccer at Cornell University.

He has been with them on the GLSA teams for 10 years and high school varsity for the past two, “[club soccer] is a lot of fun, as we have been able to travel around the country to a variety of the most elite club soccer events and got to play against some incredibly talented teams while having a great time.”

Goebeler expressed that O’Connell, Reilly, and himself have come so far from being 8 year olds running all over the field to getting ready to play in college. They wouldn’t have been able to do it without all of their coaches and teammates.

The three equally enjoy playing together on both teams, but “high school [soccer] has a different dynamic to it because you are playing with all of your school friends, and the atmosphere is lighter than the club atmosphere,” Goebeler said.

Another teammate and senior at LHS, Christian Long said that Reilly always works with the team to take their wrongs and make them rights.

The Future:

When asked about their soccer life after high school, Reilly and O’Connell both stressed that it would be weird without each other, but they are looking forward to the next step.

They are both intent on continuing their academic and athletic career at the collegiate level; Reilly has committed to play soccer at the University of Dayton, while O’Connell is still undecided.

While the two will be moving forward to a new team full of new challenges, their longtime coach, Zovistoski, is confident they will continue on as leaders.

“They are leaders by example. They work tirelessly and play without fear — the way real leaders lead.”

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  • S

    Sharon MurphyNov 9, 2015 at 8:49 am

    I watched the game in AZ. It was exciting to see what a great team Libertyville has. It was especially exciting to watch Liam and Kevin play and do so well. I was a teacher at Copeland School where they went to elementary school as kids and was proud to be Liam’s first grade teacher!!! My daughter was on one of the girls teams that won state with Coach Bitta so watching the game brought back great memories. Congrats to all the boys on a fantastic season and exciting and well played championship game!

  • D

    Dawn O'ConnellOct 22, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Dear Maddie and Mary Kate,

    Thank you for your beautifully written article about Kevin and Liam. It was great to see their years of dedication to soccer acknowledged. I especially loved that you also wrote about their wonderful friendship.

    Dawn O’Connell

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A Decade of Domination