LA GRANGE – Lyons Township boys soccer got a taste of playoff soccer last week in the Pepsi Showdown and is hoping to learn from the experience.
The Lions fell down three goals to Lane Tech in the quarterfinal of the tournament Thursday in La Grange before rallying late in a 3-2 loss. The late comeback bid wasn’t successful, but it was clear from the emotion on the field that the Lions wanted to defend their tournament title.
“The single elimination format allows you to feel what it’s like in that state tournament and understand that it’s finalized as that buzzer gets to zeros,” LT coach Paul Labbato said. “Our kids are kind of feeling like it’s the end of the season. We have big games coming up. Hinsdale Central is going to be in front of 1,500 people at south campus. We can’t hang our season like it’s over.”
The Hinsdale Central game will be Saturday at 3 p.m. in Western Springs. The Red Devils, which won last year’s game to win the West Suburban Silver, are again a strong opponent.
The Lions, which have made the Pepsi Showdown championship game four times since 2006, took their first loss of the season. LT was the top seed in the 32-team field and beat Lake Forest Academy, 7-0, and Kelly, 5-0, to advance to Thursday’s game against Lane.
The Indians scored twice in the first half, including a goal directly in off a corner kick just before halftime. A third goal in the 54th minute could have been the end of the game, but the Lions roared back.
Frankie Kocimski scored four minutes later after breaking through the defense for an open shot on goal. The Lions thought they had a second goal soon after, but the score was called back for offside. Emilio Godinez scored a shot from a tight angle with eight minutes remaining, but the third goal didn’t come.
“We gave it all we could at the end,” Godinez said. “We got those two goals in. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the third. We had a lot of chances that could have been the third.”
Lyons Township at the Pepsi Showdown
LT 7, Lake Forest Academy 0
LT 5, Kelly 0
Lane Tech 3, LT 2
LT 1, Warren 1