Senior Collin Sullivan and his Lyons Township boys soccer teammates were enjoying a great 2022 season with a No. 1 state ranking.
Then in the Senior Night/homecoming game, Sullivan broke two bones in his right foot and was lost for the rest of the season.
After a 9-1-3 start, the Lions finished the season losing four of their last seven.
“It was a really tough experience for me, and definitely one I’ve never experienced before, not being able to play,” Sullivan said. “Just watching some of the games and not being able to participate was not a fun experience for me, but it was a good season and we definitely want revenge this year.”
A healthy Sullivan is among the reasons for optimism for the Lions, who return several key players from a still solid 15-6-3 finish that included their ninth consecutive regional title before losing to rival Hinsdale Central 2-0 in the IHSA Class 3A Hinsdale Central Sectional semifinals. The Lions tied for fourth in the West Suburban Conference Silver at 3-3 with Glenbard West.
“Our season took a turn on the field [after Sullivan’s injury],”LTHS coach Paul Labbato said.
“Collin Sullivan would have been all-state. He was by far our best player through the first 12 games last year. [We were] beating Naperville North, Hinsdale Central, New Trier, Morton and others.”
Sullivan and senior Danny Svelnis once again will form the center of the Lions’ flat-back defensive formation.
Also back are senior center midfielders Jimmy Brejcha, Declan Kracker and Haris Sarajlija, senior forwards Owen Suda and Austen Wisniewski, senior goalie Tyler Balon and junior forward Mason Burda. Key newcomers include senior forward Ian Farris and junior center midfielder Kellin Bourjaily.
The Lions opened Aug. 21 with a 3-1 home victory over Sandburg, getting two goals from Suda and one by Sullivan.
“[Our keys are] getting our attack in sync and scoring big goals,” Labbato said.
Sullivan has committed to Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, where older brother Jackson plays. Collin just recently returned from a lateral collateral ligament (LCL) tear in his right leg two months ago.
“We definitely can make something happen, and I’m really looking forward to the talent we have,” Sullivan said.