Last spring, the Lyons Township High School girls soccer team was hoping to build off a very strong 2019, when the Lions placed fourth in the state. But they never got the opportunity, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it really caught us by surprise. We thought things might be delayed for a couple of weeks, but to lose the whole season was really hard, especially for the seniors,” said LTHS coach Bill Lanspeary, who is entering his 15th season at the helm.
This year, LTHS has three seniors from the 2019 team to help with another run at both the West Suburban Silver and state championships in forward Ava Dallavo, defender Elli Kosonovich and midfielder Lily Mattern.
“Ava is a quick and skilled attacker, Elli is an outstanding defender and Lily is a fantastic overall player that could play anywhere on the field for us,” Lanspeary said.
The Lions will also rely on seniors Reese Komsthoeft, Jordan Lee-Caracci and Maddie McPartlin as well as junior Eleanor Musgrove to provide experience and leadership.
“We seem to be pretty well-rounded. I don’t know that we’ll be dominant in any one aspect, but we appear to be solid overall,” Lanspeary said.
He also feels the West Suburban Silver race is hard to assess this year given the missed 2020 season and that some players might opt to play for their club teams given that the IHSA is allowing for simultaneous seasons this year. The conference is usually one of the area’s toughest, and Lanspeary expects it to be competitive again.
But he’s also pleased with how well LTHS has dealt with the uncertainties of the pandemic as a team.
“They’ve been fantastic. I think many [players] have seen how much they miss playing soccer and being part of our team,” said Lanspeary. “Hopefully, we all appreciate the many great things about athletics, clubs, and activities a lot more.”
The Lions open the season with a home match April 20 versus Proviso East (post-deadline), followed by a road contest at Hinsdale Central on April 23.
RBHS eager to return to pitch
The Riverside-Brookfield girls soccer team (9-8-2 in 2019) is thrilled to be coming back to the field in 2021, and coach Ivek Halic knows his team is eager to make up for lost time.
“I am fortunate to see the girls playing again especially with them missing last season,” he said. “I can speak for all of them by saying we are all eager to begin playing again. The girls must play together and continue to work for each other. If we move the ball effectively and can move off the ball, we will create opportunities and make it difficult for teams to score.”
The Bulldogs began their abbreviated 2021 campaign, which features 13 games, on April 15 with a conference matchup against Wheaton-St. Francis, falling 5-0.
“We lost to a quality St. Francis side, but the girls did well and were able to create numerous chances,” Halic said.
Among the key returning players for the Bulldogs this season are seniors Maddy Georgopoulos, Sofia Arcos and Emily Vranek, and juniors Carmen Guerrero and Amanda DiForti. Freshman Madison Bisiules, Hazel Hall, Niamh Larson and Ericka Pacheco join this young varsity team this season to bring depth to the squad.
“We have a young team that have a high soccer understanding,” Halic said. “Many of our players are playing competitively at travel programs which has helped build the program to where it is today.”
The underclassmen along with the experience of the upperclassmen have already shown promise in the early stages of the season, and Halic sees that as one of the team’s biggest strengths.
“We graduated a large senior class last year, but I am very pleased with the talented players and the younger players within the program,” he said. “The girls are working extremely hard and have been able to adjust to new positions and formations this early in the season. Along with the leadership of the upperclassmen, I am excited to see the girls playing this season.”
After not being able to take the field together last season, The Bulldogs are thankful to be playing again and will make the most of their opportunity to compete.
“It is important to not take these opportunities for granted and appreciate the time and moments within the games,” Halic said.