Kate Fulscher

Even with key question marks entering the season, senior Kate Fulscher and her Lyons Township High School girls soccer teammates continued the success fairly comparable to last season’s program best second-place IHSA Class 3A state finisher.

These Lions, however, did not have the same postseason fortune May 27.

After appearing to break through in overtime, the Lions lost to Glenbard West 2-1 in the 3A Glenbard West Sectional final, losing 4-3 on penalty kicks.

“It was very frustrating. I think the most frustrating thing about it was we had played them before [winning 2-1 at Glenbard West on May 10),” said Fulscher, a starting central defender with sophomore newcomer Brennan Israel.

“We had a lot of senior starters [last season]. Almost all of them started. This year, that wasn’t exactly the case. We had people that didn’t usually start or were new to the team. We were just rolling along with what was there, and I felt we were able to do that.”

The Lions (20-2) quickly ascended to be ranked No. 1 or among the state’s best throughout the season. They recorded 16 shutouts, including three straight before the loss to Glenbard West. Five seniors started Friday – Fulscher, center midfielder Eleanor Musgrove, defenders Rielly Chesna and Ava Pike and goalie Izzy Lee.

Last season, the Lions reached the championship game after three one-goal victories.

“To make a run like [2021] and this, you’ve got to be really good, but you’ve kind of got to get a break here and there and make sure you capitalize on everything,” LTHS coach Bill Lanspeary said. “We were right there, awfully close.”

After a scoreless regulation, the Lions appeared to be rolling again. Junior Niamh Griffin scored off junior Riley Wengerd’s lead pass with 6:19 left in the first of two 10-minute overtimes. But Glenbard West’s Gwen Johnson hit a lofting 17-yard shot into the upper-left corner over Lee with 8:51 left in the second overtime after the ball appeared about to be cleared.

LTHS shot first in penalty kicks. Musgrove and Pike scored but the Lions were unsuccessful the next two. Lee stopped the Hilltoppers’ fourth shot and LTHS junior Chandlar Lay scored for a 3-3 tie. Maeve Repking converted the Hilltoppers’ final attempt to end the game.

“Congratulations to them. They’re a good team, well coached,” Lanspeary said. “I’m really proud of our kids. I told them the result tonight doesn’t change any of that. We had a heck of a season, a tremendous run. Got a little unlucky tonight.”