Lyons’ Katie Rehor wasn’t going to lie.
While the Michigan State-bound midfielder was happy to be bringing a state trophy home, the Lions expected a lot more than just a fourth-place finish at last weekend’s Class AA girls soccer state finals at North Central College in Naperville.
“We were disappointed on Saturday, but it was great to be in the Final Four,” said Rehor, who was one of the premier midfielders playing in the state finals. “But it’s always better to go home with at least something.”
After failing to advance past the quarterfinals the past two years, Lyons (21-8) earned its second Final Four berth in four years on Friday with a 1-0 victory over Peoria Notre Dame.
Courtney Curby’s 15th goal of the season off a restart with 23:21 to play in the opening half was all the Lions needed to move on.
“We practice restarts all the time,” said Curby, who will play at St. John’s in the fall. “But I did start to get a little worried in the second half because even though we were in control, we couldn’t get another one.”
Lyons dominated throughout and outshot the Irish 20-4. Mary Daly recorded her fourth shutout of the postseason.
“I was actually worried sick about this game coming in,” Lyons coach Alex Hernandez said. “The score doesn’t indicate how well we played tonight. We could have scored four or five goals.”
The loss was just the fourth of the season handed to Peoria Notre Dame (22-4-1), which advanced to the Class A state finals the previous three seasons.
“A lot of people didn’t think we belonged here, but we did,” Curby said. “It was nerve-racking, but amazing at the same time to be in that spot.”
The Lions were unable to find the goal on Saturday, as they fell to Barrington 1-0 in the semifinals and Wheaton North 3-0 in the third-place game.
New Trier went on to beat Barrington 2-1 to claim its third state crown in the last four years.
“We were playing to win the third-place game, but we also made sure we played everyone,” Hernandez said. “So we were trying to do a little bit of both.”
Hernandez officially resigned after Saturday’s games. While he will spend next spring coaching his daughter’s youth soccer team, Hernandez will miss the high school scene?”but not the IHSA.
“To be able to make it Downstate four years in a row and bring back two trophies is a big deal for this program,” said Hernandez, who recorded 87 wins during his five-year run. “I’m going to miss it.
“But with that said, high school soccer needs to get itself corrected. I’ve been telling Beth Sauser [an IHSA assistant executive director] for the last five years that high school was going to start losing the best players to club. But year after year, [the IHSA] doesn’t listen and nothing changes.
“It’s like smoke and mirrors, and really a slap in the face to all the coaches that put time and energy into trying to help the game develop and improve at the high school level.
“I have no idea what the state of high school soccer is going to be in five years. But they need to address some issues now before it gets worse.”