Libertyville advances to Pepsi final
Larkin forward Danny Valdez scored in the 11th minute and the Royals dominated possession
for most of the first half but Libertyville scored twice in the first
2:32 of the second half and never looked back as they blew passed
Larkin 4-1 in a Pepsi Showdown semifinal at Wildcats' Stadium Saturday
On Libertyville's first possession of the second half Keenan Busse
blasted a ball from 30 yards out that deflected off Santiago
Guerrero's outstretched hand and into the goal for the equalizer.
"We got motivated at halftime," the sophomore Busse said. "This was
the first time we were down a goal so we wanted to cone out and prove
that we could come back with a win."
Less than two minutes later, Landon Eyre headed a ball behind himself
and into the net to give the Wildcats (11-0) a 2-1 advantage.
"I told them 'the start of the second half is a brand new game. We
have to get one soon and put pressure on them,'" head coach Andy Bitta
said. "And we responded like a championship team."
Wildcat keeper Andrew Bitta (six saves) faced constant pressure in the
first half and made several spectacular saves.
In the ninth minute Bitta dove to his left to barely keep a Tony Fernandez penalty shot from
passing under the crossbar. On the ensuing throw in, Valdez beat
Bitta to his left with a hard strike from the middle of the box to
give Larkin (7-3-1) a 1-0 lead. Ten minutes later Bitta punched a
Valdez blast over the crossbar to keep the deficit at one goal.
"We didn't give him any help the first 10 minutes of the game," Andy Bitta
said of his senior goalie. "After that, the defense played much
better. He's a hell of a keeper-- I think he's one of the best
Bitta did not face a shot on goal in the second half.
Miles McNair scored on a breakaway strike with 2:09 to play to make it
3-1. Marshall Hollandsworth then beat Guerrero (nine saves) with 20
seconds left to seal the victory.
Libertyville will play Morton in the Pepsi Showdown final at Toyota
Park on September 26th at 11 a.m.