A Carl Sandburg defender lunges in on LTHS forward Katie O’Malley (9) during the Lions’ 2-1 comeback victory in the IHSA state supersectionals on June 14, a win that advanced LTHS to the Class 3A state semifinals. (Shanel Romain/Contributor)

Late in the first half of its IHSA Class 3A girls soccer supersectional versus Carl Sandburg High School on June 14, not only did Lyons Township High School allow just its second goal this season, it trailed for the first time all season.

But LTHS coach Bill Lanspeary felt confident that the Lions could rally, based on past experience.

“We’ve got a group of kids that have been in that situation before, so they were able to maintain their composure,” he said after undefeated LTHS rallied for two second-half goals to knock off the Eagles 2-1 at Reavis High School in Burbank. “There were some early jitters, but as the game went on we started playing our soccer, and that led to some more opportunities for us in the second half.”

The victory advances the Lions (19-0) to the IHSA state semifinals that take place June 18 at Hoffman Estates High School. LTHS will meet either Barrington or St. Charles East, who met June 15 after the Landmark’s press time.

With the Lions trailing 1-0 a little more than five minutes into the second half, the Sandburg goalkeeper was ruled to have committed a foul inside the penalty area, thereby awarding a penalty kick to the Lions.

Eleanor Musgrove took the attempt and buried it, tying the score at 1-1. Lanspeary believed that was the game’s turning point.

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“Getting that penalty kick gave us a lot of momentum going forward,” he said.

Then midway through the second half, the LTHS defense forced a turnover, leading to a counterattack that resulted in a goal by the team’s leading scorer, Jordan Lee-Caracci, at the 20-minute mark.

“Jordan has been fantastic,” said Lanspeary. “I’m really happy for her; she’s a kid that has worked really hard and done a nice job for us.”

From there, the defense took over, not allowing Sandburg any good opportunities to score. The best the Eagles could do was a pair of long free kicks that were easily stopped by Lions goalkeeper Izzy Lee.

This will be LTHS’ ninth appearance in the state finals, and the first time the program has qualified for them in consecutive seasons since a five-year run between 2003 and 2007. 

The Lions placed fourth in 2019; last year’s season was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.