WINNETKA – New Trier and Libertyville both have supersectional experience, including against each other.
Libertyville celebrated its third-straight trip to the Elite Eight with its second win. The Wildcats, who lost in the round to Evanston last season, denied the Trevians a Final Four berth for the second time in the last three seasons with a shootout win Tuesday.
After a six-year run of appearances from 2014-19, New Trier missed out on the final weekend of the season for the third season in a row.
The tough, physical contest couldn't be decided through 80 minutes of regulation play and two 10-minute overtime periods. Libertyville completed a 5-3 advantage in PKs to earn the hard-fought victory.
"Right now, it's just excitement, going to a shootout, it's something that we practice frequently," Libertyville coach Daniel DePaz said. "I had confidence in the girls and confidence in (our keeper) Kate (Hopma). She had an opportunity to make a save.
“It really comes down to the mental toughness that these girls have. Just the resiliency, going back to the Hersey game (a 4-3 double overtime win May 23). We were down and out. We found a goal with a minute and a half left (in regulation). It's something that we've practiced and dealt with. I just look at the mental toughness with these girls. We know that they will give it their all."
The game was a nonstop struggle.
"We were prepared for it," DePaz said. "Once we make a deep run that physicality will be a part of it. We talked about it all week, and we were ready for it."
New Trier (23-4-1) gave its all.
"It was a physical battle," New Trier coach Jim Burnside said. "I believe the kids did everything that they could do. They battled and did what we asked them to do. It just didn't fall their way. In the postseason, you have to pick up your players. It's just sad to see it end this way.
"Bottom line, Libertyville was a good team. They are a good athletic team, which makes it harder to free up those chances. I thought we did a good job and when we needed that final touch or cross, it was hard for us. It was a battle.
“Those chances don't come that often when you play good teams. It's a touch away, and to end in kicks is not on anybody's shoulders. It a matter you go out and play 100 minutes and do the best you can."
In the PKs, each team made their opening kicks. Then Libertyville went up 2-1 on a kick from Maddy Kopola. Bad luck followed for the Trevians. Clara Deliduka’s offering hit the crossbar and landed outside the goal line. The Wildcats went on to get three-straight conversions from Shea Krakowski, Molly Koch and the game-winner from Pru Babat. New Trier players that scored were Lida Dodge, Josie Nobel and Honor Dold.
"All throughout the playoffs, my coach (DePaz) has said to me that I'm the fifth PK shooter," said Babat, who earned the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor. "So, I've known that would be my position when it came down to it. I really didn't know that it would be this soon. With my slow walkup the nerves really weren't there. I was able to push them away. I just envisioned putting the ball into the back of the net and scoring the goal."
One of New Trier's best scoring chances in the game came early. In the seventh minute, Dold hit a 20-yard shot that Hopma pushed over the bar.
In the 36th minute, Libertyville's Ellie Rebmann found a loose ball that got away from a Trevians' defender and went off its keeper Caroline Hague. Rebmann moved toward the left side of the box and fired a left-footed shot that hit the corner of the post and went over the end line.
Libertyville had another chance in the 63rd minute. Mabelle Kosowski got a shot away as Hague moved to her. The ball had eyes for the far side of the goal, but New Trier's Kennedy Colegrove stepped up to clear the ball and prevent a goal.
"I just knew that ball wasn't going to go in the goal. I wasn't going to let it get in the goal," Colegrove said. "I got in there and tried to save it. I did and left my man to get the ball. It was all instinct to stop it."
The 2023 season saw New Trier return to form after a 12-8-5 run last spring.
"It was a great season," Burnside said. "I don't think anybody thought we would have this type of season. We had a tough season last year.
“I think the kids stepped up all over the place. I'm so proud of each individual on this team. Whether the 23 kids saw five games or 28 games (of action), they were a great group -- these seniors I will miss immensely.
“The growth has been huge. They've learned to play together as a team, come together as individuals and became a great team that New Trier will remember for a long time."
Sadie-Grace Richardson concluded her fine prep career Tuesday.
"I've been on this team for four years," Richardson said. "Honestly, I can say that this is the best soccer, I have had a chance to play.
“These girls know what it means to have heart, and they show it every day in practice. We push each other in a way that is so amazing. I knew last year was a bump in the road. This year there were some doubts, but we got it done. I think we showed up in a way that was unexpected and powerful."
Libertyville (17-2-2) moves on to play the last undefeated team in the state in Barrington (22-0-2). The semifinal is slated 5 p.m. at North Central College in Naperville. The host Fillies turned away St. Charles North 5-3 Tuesday night.
MF- Pru Babat
MF Molly Koch
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Pru Babat, sr., MF, Libertyville
Referees: John Martelin (center); Hannah Shehaiber (AR); Sam Nachampassapk (AR)
Libertyville: Jenna Krakowski (goal); Maddy Kopola (goal); Shea Krakowski (goal); Molly Koch (goal); Pru Babat (goal)
New Trier: Lida Dodge (goal); Clara Deliduka (crossbar); Josie Noble (goal); Honor Dold (goal)