WESTERN SPRINGS – Harry Hilling and the rest of the Lyons Township boys soccer team had plenty of motivation entering Saturday's regional final.
The most obvious reason is that any playoff game could be the end of the season. The Lions also wanted another shot at Hinsdale Central, and they got it with the regional win.
"It was also going off of last year's defeat to Fenwick in the regional final," Hilling said. "It definitely fueled us this year."
Hilling scored the lone goal of the first half and added another in the second half of a 3-0 win over Downers Grove South. LT, the No. 4 seed in the Hinsdale South sectional, advanced to the sectional semifinal Tuesday against the Red Devils with the win.
Frankie Kocimski gave the Lions a crucial insurance goal in the 44th minute on a cross from Emilio Godinez. Hilling added the third score in the 56th minute and LT cruised down the stretch.
After last year's upset loss in the regional final, the Lions erased any doubt of a repeat performance.
"I know they've been thinking about that, about trying to take these games one game at a time and not looking ahead," LT coach Paul Labbato said. "Hinsdale Central, the rivalry and the potential of playing them again, [the regional game might have been] a real easy game to kind of peak past, but they didn't."
Peter Nolan kept the shutout in goal, even saving a penalty kick in the final 10 minutes of the match. Nolan had fouled an attacker in the box, but was able to keep the shutout.
"Going into that I was thinking I just really want to keep the shut out," Nolan said. "I didn't want to let a dumb mistake ruin it."
Nolan made nine saves to keep the zero on the scoreboard. Downers Grove South, the No. 5 seed in the sectional, had plenty of chances to get on the board and limited LT to just two shots on goal in the second half. Both of those LT shots resulted in goals.
"When you save a PK all of a sudden everything else seems a whole lot better, but he was actually really consistent all game," Labbato said of Nolan.