When Alex Hernandez’s wife convinced the longtime coach to step away from the Lyons Township High School girls soccer program last spring, there’s no question that he was leaving the program in very good shape.

During Hernandez’s five-year run, the program won 87 games and made four consecutive Class AA state finals appearances between 2003-06-bringing home two state trophies during that stretch. Last season the Lions finished fourth in the state.

So it’s safe to say first-year coach Bill Lanspeary is walking into a pretty good situation this spring.

“We expect to continue the success of the program from the past five years and compete for the West Suburban Silver Division Title,” said Lanspeary, who coached at the freshmen level last season. “Hopefully, we’ll have a nice postseason run that will have us playing soccer on the last weekend of the season once again.”

Coming off a campaign in which the Lions went 21-8 overall and shared the conference crown with Hinsdale Central and Downers Grove North, Lanspeary returns a number of solid players from last year’s squad.

Midfielder Jackie Hanson and forward Jill Kevorkian highlight the list. The two seniors were not only key stars a year ago, but over the past couple years.

The Ohio-bound Hanson recorded six goals and handed out 12 assists in 2006, while Kevorkian (Western Illinois) found the back of the net 13 times to go along with seven assists. Defender Sara Ornelas (Evansville) and goalie Mary Daly are two others that Lanspeary is expecting big things from.

“We’ve also got some really good freshmen,” Lanspeary said. “But at this point, it’s anyone’s guess on just how they’ll pan out at this level.”

While a number of talented players are back, Lanspeary will have to find a way to fill the holes caused by graduation.

“We have to replace not only some really talented players from last year’s team, but also some solid role players that really contributed to our success,” Lanspeary said. “Our success will really depend on the ability of our returning players to take on the role of leaders, and our newbies to mesh with the older girls. How it all plays out will be interesting.”

One key component Lanspeary retained from the Hernandez era was Assistant Coach Andy Newcomb, who was the head girls soccer coach at Providence High School before joining Lyons Township in 2001.

“Our schedule is tough again,” Lanspeary said. “Downers North returns a lot, and Hinsdale Central is always solid. In the western suburbs, you can always look at the usual suspects and expect everyone to be good if not better than they were the year before.”