North Central College may not be home to the Lyons girls soccer team, but at this rate it might as well be its home-away-from-home.
For the fifth consecutive year, the Lions advanced to Friday’s Class AA state quarterfinals with a 3-2 overtime victory over U-High on Monday night at Benedictine University in Lisle.
Emma Havlat’s goal off a Jackie Hanson corner kick early in the extra session helped Lyons (15-8-2) capture the supersectional crown, punch its state ticket and record history at the same time.
With the win, the Lions became just the fourth program in IHSA history to advance to the Elite Eight five consecutive years. New Trier, Rockford Boylan and St. Charles are the other three.
“I was a little worried after U-High scored its second goal (to tie the game at 2-2 in the second half,” said Lyons coach Bill Lanspeary, who advanced to supersectional play with wins over Fenwick and Oak Park in its own sectional last week. “A number of these kids have been Downstate a lot, but we have a lot of new kids, too. But no matter how many times you go to state, it’s still a big deal for everyone.”
U-High (19-3) struck first with 11:49 to play in the first half, but Lyons’ Steph Condon tied it at 1-1 off a restart two minutes later.
It looked as though Lanspeary’s crew was going to take control when Jill Kevorkian found the back of the net less than eight minutes into the second half, but U-High didn’t fold. It eventually tied the game with 23:57 remaining in regulation.
“We have to clean up some stuff in the back before Friday’s game (against Fremd),” Lanspeary said. “We can’t make the mistakes we did (Monday).”
Those mistakes, however, enabled Havlat to be the hero.
“Jackie played a great ball into the box,” said Havlat, whose team captured a fourth-place state trophy a year ago. “I saw Steph (Condon) and I thought she was going to get it, but I had a better angle on the ball. This is a great feeling, because we never take getting to state for granted.”
The win was even more gratifying to Lanspeary. Despite trying to settle in during his first season as head coach, he also has dealt with two separate major family illnesses-his mother and one of his twin sons. Both are doing well now, but it has been taxing at times.
“We didn’t play great, but we’ll take it,” Lanspeary said. “It’s great for us to be back in this position again.”