What a difference a few days can make. After losing 2-0 to conference rival Hinsdale Central on Friday, the Lyons Township High School boys soccer team responded beautifully with a 2-1 overtime win over Libertyville to claim the PepsiCo Showdown championship on Sunday at DePaul’s Wish Field.
Senior Nick Economou tied the game at 1-1 on a header off a free kick from Camilo Drobny late in the second half. Adrian Valadez netted the game-winner in overtime for the Lions (10-3-1).
One of the largest crowds to watch a regular-season high school boys soccer game was on hand Friday night at Bennett Field to see if host LTHS could knock off reigning state champion Hinsdale Central.
The answer, as the gathering estimated at nearly 3,000 found out, was no.
Star striker Rigoberto Rojas scored twice in the first half as the Red Devils held off a determined rally by the Lions to escape with a 2-0 West Suburban Conference Silver Division victory in the annual Silver Brick game.
The Silver Brick trophy, which the two archrivals have vied for since 2008, remains at Hinsdale for the fourth straight year.
“First and foremost, we’re just really disappointed,” LTHS senior Aaron Onion said. “We came out and there was a big crowd and we wanted to make our students happy and unfortunately we couldn’t do that tonight. But we’re thankful for their support.”
The Lions outshot the Red Devils (10-1-1, 3-0) by a 12-10 margin and had better scoring chances, particularly in the second half. But as has been the case too often against Hinsdale Central, they conceded twice on restarts.
Rojas’ first goal came on a 26-yard free kick that deflected off the defensive wall and past LTHS goalkeeper Donald Darrus with 21:06 to go in the first half.
The 6-5 senior’s second strike was less fluky but even more demoralizing. Hinsdale Central goalkeeper Ethan Gama launched a huge free kick from just outside of his own penalty area toward the LTHS end.
The ball flew 70 yards in the air before bouncing into the box to Rojas, who turned and beat Darrus with a left-footed one-timer from 10 yards out at the 12:01 mark.
LTHS earned four corner kicks and nearly a dozen throw-ins deep in their attacking third in the second half but could not take advantage. Senior forward Carlos Molina came the closest, firing a 15-yard shot off the left post with 29:15 to go.
“I thought we played well and had our chances,” LTHS coach Paul Labbato said. “One of those chances goes in, it cranks it up and unfortunately we just couldn’t get anything actually in the goal.”
Onion, who played club soccer the past two years, savored the opportunity to play such high quality teams in meaningful games.
“I was thinking about it this past week and I was thinking these are the two most anticipated games I’ve ever been a part of,” Onion said. “The amount of social media, messages and people coming up to us at school, it’s been great. Playing for LT is a big deal for me. Playing in front of this atmosphere is one of the coolest experiences on a soccer field that I’ve ever had.”