LT soccer kicks its way to State tournament

Team holds off Stagg, Markham closes out win with two quick goals

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Lyons' Tim Markham knew it was only a matter of time.

But what the senior forward didn't know was when that moment would finally arrive Monday night in the Class AA Loyola University Supersectional.

After 66 minutes of missed opportunities, Markham and Co. finally cashed in with a pair of goals and recorded a 2-0 victory over Stagg to earn their first State quarterfinal berth since 1999.

"We didn't know much about Stagg, but we knew this would be a hard game," Markham said. "We knew once we got the first (goal) that hopefully things would open up, and they did."

Up next for Lyons (22-1-3) is Rockford Boylan (24-2) in quarterfinal play Friday afternoon at North Central College in Naperville. These two programs met in the 1998 quarterfinals, and Rockford Boylan advanced with a 2-0 victory.

"Getting to this point wasn't easy, but it never is in playoff soccer," said Lyons coach Alex Hernandez, who has led the Lions to their best regular-season record in the program's history. "Sometimes the emotions take over in a game like this and you don't play well. The environment controls a lot, but we were able to overcome that and put two away."

Since moving from the backline to forward earlier in the season, Markham has led the Lions offensive attack.

He got his team on the board with 13:12 to play after he took a Kyle Luetkehans pass and beat Stagg goalie Bob Martkatos to the right.

Less than a minute later, Markham was back at it again. This time, Mark Zeman laid a perfect ball down the left sideline and Markham buried it in the right corner of the net to seal the win.

"We've been talking about getting to State all year, and now we're finally there," Zeman said. "We're happy and it's exciting, but we still have some tough games in front of us."

The Lions advanced to Monday's supersectional after capturing their own sectional crown last Thursday.

After disposing West Suburban (Silver) Conference foe York 4-0 in the sectional semifinals, Hernandez's squad captured the sectional title with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Morton. Markham and Luetkehans tallied goals against the Mustangs, which was one of three teams to tie the Lions during the regular season.

"I asked the boys recently when was the last time this program was Downstate," Hernandez said. "Some of them didn't know, but now they do."

Lyons, which hasn't lost since Wheaton-Warrenville South defeated them 2-0 in the semifinals of the Pepsi Showdown on Sept. 15, is making its fifth State finals appearance.

They will be in search of their first win Downstate. The program owns a 0-5 record in State finals games, and has been outscored 10-4 in those five contests. The Lions did, however, bring home a fourth-place trophy in 1972, despite losing both of their State contests to New Trier West and Senn.

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