Senior Katie O’Malley and the Lyons Township High School girls soccer team scored early in the IHSA Class 3A Reavis Sectional final against rival Hinsdale Central on May 26.

Senior goalie Sara Schinker made a great first-half diving save of a penalty kick.

The Lions were doing everything according to plan to avenge last year’s heartbreaking playoff loss.

Then the momentum turned.

Hinsdale Central tied the game in the second half and eventually pulled out a 2-1 extra time victory after the Lions had won the regular-season meeting 1-0 in April with a second-half goal by Caroline McKenna off an O’Malley corner kick.

“I think we should have realized they’re going to keep fighting. And we have to keep going as hard, too,” O’Malley said. “I think we still put in the aggression, the effort. We had chances. We just couldn’t get it to where we wanted it.”

“I give them credit. When they missed that [penalty kick], they could have been like, ‘They’re up 1-0. It’s over.’ But they kept fighting.” 

The top-seeded Lions (21-2-1) again had their season end all too soon with their second loss in a sectional final to a team they beat in the regular season. Last season, LTHS finished 20-2 after losing to Glenbard West on penalty kicks after scoring first in extra time.

They entered the sectional final with an 11-game unbeaten streak and had won their last six games by shutout, giving them 18 on the season. They allowed only eight goals all season. The only other multiple-goal game was their other loss to Fremd in April on penalty kicks to settle a 2-2 tie.

“I’m really proud of this team. What you remember and what we talk about is not just the play on the field and the great games that we had,” LTHS coach Bill Lanspeary said. “They built a lot of great camaraderie and friendships and that’s the stuff that will last. I think that’s what makes it that much harder when it comes to an end.”

 With 4:30 left in the first of two 10-minute extra periods, Hinsdale Central’s Avery Edgewater scored with a 30-yard shot inside the near post off a pass from Carter Knotts.

The Lions pressed throughout the second overtime, collecting three shots, three free kicks and two corner kicks but could not get the equalizer.

“Every year you think it’s a great team but just the way we played together, it was really special,” LTHS junior midfielder Izzi Wirtz said. “I thought we played hard. I thought we had better chances. In the end, the chances we had didn’t find the back of the net.”

Only 9:16 into the game, LTHS junior Peyton Israel scored first off a left-wing cross by O’Malley.

However, the tone of the game changed with 28:24 left in regulation when Hinsdale Central defender Ava Elliott created a 1-1 tie by putting a 40-yard free kick into the upper-right corner of the net.

“I think 1-0 is such a dangerous lead because if the other team scores, the momentum they have,” Wirtz said. [(Hinsdale] had so much momentum after they scored to equalize and that carried them into that second goal.” 

O’Malley, who will play at Illinois State, finished with team highs of 19 goals and 19 assists. Sophomore Caroline Mortonson (8 goals, 15 assists) and freshman Carolina Capizzi (11 goals) also were top scorers.

Other senior standouts included central defender Chandlar Lay and forward Niamh Griffin (7 goals, 3 assists), who suffered a torn ACL in the regional final victory over Glenbard West. Juniors Avery Wengerd and Riley Wengerd also suffered season-ending knee injuries.

Hinsdale Central (16-7-2) captured its first sectional title since 2015. In the sectional semifinals, the Red Devils beat York 3-0 to avenge a 4-1 loss and the Lions blanked Downers Grove South 4-0.

“It’s tough to end this way,” Lanspeary said. “At this point, we felt pretty good about our chances going forward, but you have to give them credit. It doesn’t change how great I feel about this group.”