It’s never easy losing an all-state goalkeeper (Maggie Orlowski), two all-sectional players (Sarah Mazur and Juliet Lusson) and a handful of other key players to graduation like the Lyons Township girls soccer team did after last season.

However, even considering the necessary adjustments of replacing such a cadre of skilled players, the Lions once again enter this spring with high expectations. Reloading rather than rebuilding is clearly the annual modus operandi of the LT girls soccer program.

“We’ve got some awfully good players [returning],” said LT coach Bill Lanspeary. “We just need to make sure we play together and stay together all season long. If we do that, it should make for a fun and exciting year.”

Last season, LT posted a solid regular season with a 16-4-4 record highlighted by a 6-0 mark and title in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference, its first outright conference championship since 2000.

The Lions’ postseason run ended abruptly with a stunning 2-0 loss to rival Hinsdale Central. Since 2000, LT has won 11 regional championships, including nine in a row, prior to last season’s shocker.

“After last year’s disappointing early exit from the playoffs, our focus [this year] is really on playing our best soccer in the state tournament,” Lanspeary said. “We would like to advance in the playoffs much further than last year. Of course, another goal of ours is to win conference.”

The Lions return plenty of talented players hungry to claim another league title and hopefully produce a deeper postseason march.

All-state senior midfielder Ari Kowalski, who has signed with Indiana to play college soccer, leads the way along with senior forward Abbie Pasquinelli. Kowalski and Pasquinelli are the Lions’ co-captains.

Juniors Catherine King, Emily Lange and Erin Fitzgerald are also expected to play major roles for the Lions. After a promising debut last spring, sophomore Liza Gabrek returns in the defensive backfield.

“Catherine will be the leader of our defense,” Lanspeary said. “Erin will help us control the midfield and be dangerous going forward, while Emily should be a force for us up top.”

Defending champion LT, Hinsdale Central, Oak Park and York are the top contenders in the conference this season.

In April, LT will compete in the Pepsi Showdown and the Naperville North Invitational.