Huskies fall in OT to Libertyville
McNeir's goal ends North's chase for a state title
By Gary Larsen
Naperville North played with fire for the third consecutive time in the postseason on Friday, and finally paid for it in a 3-2 loss to Libertyville that ended the Huskies’ state-title hopes.
After beating Neuqua Valley in a shootout and scoring an overtime goal to beat Lyons Township, the Huskies’ finally lost a game in extra time, when Libertyville’s Miles McNeir scored in the 100th minute of play.
McNeir’s goal in the Class 3A state semifinal match sent the Wildcats (21-3-2) to Saturday’s state title game, and left the Huskies (21-3-2) to sort out what went wrong.
“I have no explanation for it,” Huskies coach Jim Konrad said. “We have not played like that all year. We were disorganized and lazy at times and sloppy, lackadaisical. All those bad words you can use. We just didn’t do it. We had them, gave up a soft goal to tie it, then couldn’t track down the second ball again.”
Friday’s game marked the third straight game that North held a lead late in the second half, only to give up a tying goal to force overtime. A team that played stellar defense all season struggled on Friday night.
The loss marked only the third team this year that a team scored more than a single goal against the Huskies, and only the second time in 26 games they gave up three goals in a match.
Libertyville also ended the Huskies’ 18-game unbeaten streak, during which they went 16-0-2.
“I’m obviously disappointed, not that we lost but that we showed so poorly,” Konrad said. “We looked like we didn’t deserve to be here. We just did not play well.”
Libertyville grabbed a 1-0 lead at 43 minutes when Jose Ibarra-Luna followed up an initial save by Huskies keeper Kevin Anderson. North’s Kyle Lindberg tied the game three minutes later when he went far post from 10 yards out, on a feed from Austin Maggard.
North took a 2-1 lead on a perfectly-played set piece at 62 minutes. Joe Sullivan sent a corner kick rolling into the penalty area, Evan Trychta dummied it, and Lee Grander stepped onto Sullivan’s feed and sent it inside the near post.
North gave up its lead at 68 minutes when Libertyville’s Marshall Hollingsworth scored on a Landon Eyre assist.
In their sectional final game against Neuqua Valley, North gave up a goal with less than 3 minutes remaining that forced overtime, before an Anderson PK save and a Sullivan conversion won them an eventual shootout.
In their super-sectional game against Lyons Township, the Huskies saw LT score a tying goal with just 21 seconds left in regulation. In overtime, a Max Auden goal on a Trychta feed pulled another one out of the fire for North.
Friday’s déjà vu against Libertyville was extra painful for North, when McNeir found open space on the right side and finished on a second ball that ended the game in the second overtime period.
“Amazing. I can’t even put it into words,” McNeir said. “I almost cried when it went into the back of the net.”
“If you let teams back enough times eventually it’s going to bite you,” North coach Jim Konrad said. “We were lucky twice, against Neuqua and LT, and today we just couldn’t get it done. We weren’t good enough.”
Libertyville will take on Rockford-Boylan (24-1-3) in a Class 3A state title game at 7 PM at North Central College. The Huskies will play Edwardsville (19-5-1) at 5 PM in the third-place consolation game. North beat Edwardsville 2-1 in September during tournament play at downstate Morton.