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Game report: Glenbrook North Sectional semifinal, Hersey vs. Libertyville

By Mike Garofola, 05/23/23, 10:00PM CDT


NORTHBROOK -- Second-seeded Libertyville advanced into the Glenbrook North Sectional final after a seven-goal, 100-minute thriller Tuesday at William Lutz Stadium. Senior Ellie Rebmann bagged the game-winner in the 86th minute to dash the hopes of Mid-Suburban League East Divison champion Hersey.

The sixth-seeded Huskies (13-8-1) were magnificent in defeat. Manager Mike Rusniak’s club came back twice from a goal down and took a 3-2 advantage into the 78th minute before conceding the equalizer that forced the mandatory pair of 10-minute extra sessions.

"The score line alone is not indicative of how hard both teams worked and played, and I thought both teams had strong defensive showings despite the seven goals scored," began Rusniak.

"This game was a true learning experience for our returning players, which we'll have several of -- how important it is to stay mentally locked in when fatigue starts to set in."

Libertyville (16-2-2), which lost in the supersectionals a year ago to Evanston, stunned the Huskies in the third minute with a goal from Molly Koch. But the Wildcats couldn’t stop MSL East Division Player of the Year Meg Mrowicki from equalizing 60 seconds later with blast from the right side for her 31st goal on the year.

During the next 35 minutes of pulsating soccer, both sides had their chances to find the back of the net. Ellie Rebmann broke the long scoreless stretch in the 39th minute with a brilliant finish past Huskies keeper Alli Paulsen, who had no chance on Rebmann's 19th goal of the season.

"It's tough giving up a goal just short of the break,” said Rusniak. “So at the half I reminded the girls of how hard they had worked to get into this game, and if they played with consistent high effort, they would find a way to win.

"I told them all those early morning training sessions, indoor conditioning sessions, training on a snow-covered turf and playing in the rain and snow made them the team they were, and to embrace their gritty identity and trust one another."

The message was received. Mrowicki’s second strike on the night came in the 56th minute on a clinical finish. It preceded Faith Sena cooly going into the back of the net 13 minutes later to regain the lead.

Both sides missed chances during the next 10 minutes until Pru Babat leveled things after a scrum near the spot was created by Tess McGormley, who played a lovely ball into the box to insure another 20 minutes of entertaining soccer.

After keeping its season alive, Libertyville had two clear chances during the first minutes of overtime before watching a composed Rebmann bag her 20th of the season in the 86th minute.

Mrowicki nearly equalized moments later when her attempt skimmed the post. But it spilled into the hands of Libertyville keeper Kate Hopma, who held on for dear life.

Rebmann just missed wide of the near post in the 92nd minute. Hersey created a quartet of deep throws in the closing minutes, but Libertyville defused the troublesome tosses to take the win.

Hersey put up a valiant fight in defeat.

"(So) many heroes for us tonight, Mrowicki of course” Rusniak said. “And Finley Wilcox, Asha Bontje, Kiki Craft and Gretchen Chianelli, who are all part of a terrific group of players who will be coming back next year to make for a very exciting 2024 season.

"When I look back to where we started and how we finished, I cannot be more proud of how close this team came in such a short period of time.

"This was a very special group in how quickly they learned to play as a unit and build off of the strength of each other. But more importantly, they were so much fun to be around day-in and day-out."