DARIEN – Morton and Lyons Township have met on the soccer field with plenty on the line in recent years.
Friday’s meeting between the two added another chapter to that history.
The Mustangs edged the Lions 1-0 in the Hinsdale South sectional final. Morton got a first half goal from Edgar Garcia and let its defense do the work from there.
Morton earned its 21st shutout of the season in the victory.
“They’re much better than advertised and they’re advertised as very good,” LT coach Paul Labbato said. “We saw first hand right in front of us how good they actually are and they defend. Maybe some of the best defending I’ve seen out of any high school team in a long time. They defend and defend with heart.”
With the win, the Mustangs played Naperville Central in a super sectional at Lewis University in Romeoville on Tuesday.
The path to get to Tuesday’s game was not easy. Morton won both sectional games 1-0, also beating Benet 1-0 in the semifinal. The shutout over LT was Morton’s eighth 1-0 victory of the fall.
“We just want to put the pressure on our defense,” Morton head coach Mike Caruso joked. “We just battled to the end, every one of these guys. On the bench everyone was composed. We like to keep it interesting. We can’t get that second goal.”
Morton last met LT in the playoffs in 2011, when the Mustangs won 4-3 in double overtime in a sectional semifinal en route to a state title. The year before LT won 2-1 in a sectional final. Last year, the Lions got the best of Morton in the final of the Pepsi Showdown, 1-0.
“It’s just one goal every time,” Caruso said. “This was right there, excitement both ways. [The fans] enjoyed it, not us coaches.”
On the goal, Alonso Fregoso attacked down the left wing and found an open Edgar Garcia making a late run into the box from midfield. Garcia cut back on his defender and scored with a low shot in the 26th minute.
Despite chances to double the lead, Morton still had to rely on its defense in the 1-0 win.
“It’s kind of like the Benet game late,” Caruso said. “We had a couple great chances to get the second goal and then we just had to hang on.”
The sectional title was Morton’s second in the past three years and fourth since 2004.