It would have been easy for Lyons boys soccer coach Alex Hernandez to be a little disappointed with his team's third-place finish in the Pepsi Showdown last Saturday night in Willow Springs.
But Hernandez was anything but that after his Lions knocked off New Trier 1-0 to finish third in the largest high school boys soccer tournament in the Midwest.
"To finish third out of 32 teams is a great accomplishment for our kids, program and coaching staff," said Hernandez, whose team improved to 7-1-1 with the win. "I still feel like we were the best soccer team in this tournament, and it would have been great to play for the title. But we have nothing to hang our heads about."
Hernandez's crew came within one game of making their first title appearance in the tournament's history, but Wheaton-Warrenville South put an end to Lyons' run last Thursday.
The Tigers recorded a 2-0 semifinal victory over Lyons in Warrenville.
After a scoreless first half, Wheaton South's Andrew Johnson got the Tigers on the board with 24:11 to play. Jacob Parrino put the game away with 4:09 left when he took a Dave Shrigley pass inside the box and easily beat Lyons goalie John Valenta.
No. 1 seed Wheaton South went on to defend its tournament crown Saturday by defeating Sandburg 2-1 in a shootout.
"Despite an unfortunate loss to Wheaton South, we played solid soccer throughout the tournament?"including that particular loss," Hernandez said. "As the team moved through bracket play, the competition stiffened and made for consistent, quality opposition. That assisted our team in its preseason goal to make every effort to improve our play each and every time we stepped on the field.
While the Lions controlled the play at times against Wheaton South, they were unable to mount a consistent offensive attack.
"That was a tough loss for us to take," Hernandez said. "But our victory in the third-place game against New Trier put us in a very good position to be voted into a high seed going into the sectional seeding meeting (tonight/Wednesday)."
Tim Markham provided all the offense Lyons needed against New Trier. The senior recorded his seventh goal of the five-game tournament with less than 17 minutes to play, when he hammered a shot from 10 yards out to the right corner of the net.
"As a part of the management team, I would like to publicly note that this could not have happened without the support and dedicated work toward excellence from our administrative staff," Hernandez said. "Dave Franson, John Grundke, Doug Stickels Lynn and Scott Magnesen and Renee Nutt did a great job.
"Our soccer complex was able to supply a true tournament feel with the close proximity of the fields. The officiating was quite good, going from a two-man system last year at Lemont to a three-man system this year really helped.
"It is our hope to be the permanent home of this outstanding, unique high school event as it is the most unique competition, because of its seeded 32 team format."