For District 128, Libertyville and Vernon Hills’ first game since 2016, the end of the men’s soccer season was a great time to plan a district rivalry.
Hosts Vernon Hills beat Libertyville 1-0 in Thursday night’s non-conference match.
“When (Libertyville coach) Kevin (Thunholm) planned it last summer, we did it twice,” said Vernon Hills coach Mike McCaulou. “We knew we were both good quality this year. We wanted to use it as a preparation for the postseason. Two quality programs are in progress. I think we did it for them and they did it for us. Libertyville, traditionally, is a powerhouse every year. It’s a football school. They do a great job and they are very organized. It was a win-win opportunity for us.”
Cougars (10-4-3) scored the winning goal with a throw-in in the 77th minute. Valde Nambo scored the goal with a touch of Aleksa Arbutina. It was only his second goal of the season, and he was recently brought forward to assist the striker’s attack.
“This was probably the best goal I’ve ever scored,” Arbutina said. Said. “I saw the ball go to Valde. He’s got a good foot and I knew he could pass me to finish. I immediately looked up, turned and shot. Just as he was off my foot, I was very confident and he saw that he was going in the far post.”
The Cougars teamed up to have a successful season.
“Our chemistry continues,” Arbutina said. “There’s a lot of seniors and juniors when we come in. There’s a way to integrate that very well. We’re a pretty diverse team and we don’t let that affect how we see each other as a team.”
Libertyville (9-6-4) played without eight players who were sick and struggling with some injuries. But the Wildcats managed to put in a pretty decent effort for 80 minutes.
“It was a matter of good timing that no one was hurt,” Thunholm said. “We just wanted to get better. The kids love to play with each other and that’s important. They all play together at the club. We have a lot of kids playing and we’ve moved. We’re still trying to figure out our heartbeat.” and important to us. We weren’t really interested in the outcome of this game and wanted to stay healthy. I hope we learned a few things. If you leave the teams to hang out, they’ll find a way to finish it. Vernon Hills did that.”