Libertyville blanks ChargersLibertyville's Shane Reilly (right) and St. Joseph's Ruben Estrada try to get controll of the ball. | Michael Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 8, 2011 9:22PM
Libertyville boys soccer coach Andy Bitta was sweating all day Thursday, and not because he feared his Wildcats weren’t prepared to face St. Joseph of Westchester in the Round of 16 of the prestigious Pepsi Showdown tournament.
“I’ve had a lot upsetting birthdays over the years,” said the longtime coach. “We used to be in the Evanston tournament, and I think we lost five years in a row on my birthday at one point, so I stopped reminding the players (what day it was).”
This time, however, Bitto was able to enjoy his birthday a lot, as his team blanked the Chargers 2-0 on second-half goals by Lloyd Chatfield (46th minute) and Austin Bitta (the coach’s son, in the 68th minute).
Bitta set up the first tally and Marshall Hollingsworth the second.
And with the shutout keeping of Zach Labrum (fourth shutout, but few shots on frame), the coach was able to smile when his team sang “Happy Birthday” to him after the contest.
“I thought we dominated at times, not so much in the offensive third, but in the middle of the field,” the coach said. “Once we started moving the ball better out of the back, we were able to get things going.
“I thought we played a much better second half, but I also think St. Joe’s got tired. We’re in extremely good shape.”
The first half was played in the middle third, but Libertyville’s coach talked to his players at the break about getting a quick one after intermission.
“We always talk about trying to get a goal in the first five minutes of the second half, and we were right there tonight,” he said.
Libertyville is now 6-1 on the season, and has three straight shutout wins since its loss to Waukegan.
The Wildcats will face Lake Zurich on Saturday at Lyons High School in LaGrange in the quarterfinals.
Lake Zurich routed Bartlett 6-0 on Thursday.