Lyons Township and Oak Park and River Forest have developed one of the best high school boys soccer rivalries in the West Suburban Conference Silver Division, which means fans are treated to an exciting match every year.
This year’s edition was no different, as the host Lions rallied from a one-goal deficit and then hung on to defeat the Huskies 3-2 in LaGrange on Sept. 9 in the WSC Silver opener for both teams.
Graham Nagle-Deamer’s 50-yard free kick deflected off the hands of LTHS goalie Donald Darrus and backward into the goal with 13:01 left in the first half. It was the senior defender’s first high school goal and gave the Huskies, who were controlling play, a 1-0 lead.
“I kick them long and hope for the best,” Nagle-Deamer said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to put it in front of the goalie and hope for the best.”
But the Lions roared back to score the next three goals. Cole Gilchrist set up the first two, crossing to Cam Dowling for the tying goal with 4:57 left in the first half and following up by being the middle man in a lightning fast counterattack goal that gave LTHS a 2-1 lead 1:48 before intermission.
Defender Nick Economou started the play by clearing a ball up the right side to Gilchrist, who broke into the open at midfield, took two touches and the fired a long ball to Patrick Duncan streaking up the middle. Duncan volleyed the bouncing ball over the head of onrushing OPRF goalie William Dunne.
“The ball came out of the back really quick and Cole is just so fast, when he gets in open spaces it’s wonderful,” Duncan said. “I just saw the defenders going towards him because Cole was drawing space, so I peeled off the back. He gave me a great ball and then I was just lucky enough to finish back post.
“It was tough. The goalie came out and cut down the angle really well but I got a little lucky, got a good bounce and was able to put it away.”
The Lions extended their lead to 3-1 on a goal by Paul Fulop at the 30:14 mark of the second half but still had to sweat out the final minutes as OPRF’s Joe Gullo scored on a penalty kick with 59.4 seconds remaining. It was the Huskies’ second penalty kick of the game – Mavin Gill missed one with 14:53 to go when his attempt hit the right post.
LTHS was happy to pull out the win in the latest of a string of tough matches. The Lions already have competed in the Best of the West tournament and New Trier Invitational, where they reached the title game and lost to top-ranked St. Charles East 2-1 in overtime on Sept. 6 after surrendering the tying goal with 1:03 left in regulation.
“We just wanted to get back out here,” Dowling said. “Saturday was definitely a game we felt like we should have won and we just wanted to take it out on these guys.”
The path doesn’t get any easier for either squad as both are competing in the prestigious PepsiCo Showdown, which began Saturday. Players from both sides say the tough schedule, while taxing, will do them good in the long run.
“It definitely helps,” Duncan said. “We picked up a [few] little injuries here and there but it’s good to have these tough games in the beginning, just seeing what we’re made of and I think we know we can handle anything that’s thrown at us.”
In other matches last week, LTHS cruised past York 6-2 in conference play as Duncan scored twice and Harry Hilling, Carlos Santoya, Daniel Gutierrez and Fulop each contributed a goal. In the first round of the PepsiCo Showdown, the third-seeded Lions earned a 6-0 win over Minooka. Gutierrez led the way with a pair of goals, while Fulop, Hilling, Diego Lopez and Liam Sharkey had one goal each. Grant Thomas, Duncan, John Mazur and Greg Piechalak had assists. Donald Darrus, Gabriel Drobny and Matt Fear shared the shutout.
The Lions ((8-2, 2-0) host Wheaton South in second round action of the PepsiCo Showdown this week.