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La Grange

LT soccer comes up short in rivalry showdown

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.”

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.

With those close games, both coaches knew one goal could decide it. Garcia’s goal came in the 26th minute, less than 10 minutes after LT captain Frankie Kocimski was denied in front of the goal on a nice play by Mustang goalkeeper Ian Chacon.

“It’s always a great rivalry with Morton,” Kocimski said. “When us two teams step on the field it’s going to be a great game overall.”

Kocimski said he plans to go into medicine with the hope of becoming a physical therapist. Playing in college is still a possibility, but he is making academics the priority on where he decides to go.

The attacker recognizable for his massive throw ins will leave as part of a senior class that experienced a lot of success in the program. Last year’s Pepsi Showdown title and regional titles in 2011 and 2013 are among the highlights.

“They’re very successful over the course of four years in our program,” Labbato said. “What great seniors and the leadership they put together.”

The 2-1 win over rival and previously undefeated Hinsdale Central in the sectional semifinal was another high point for the team.

“Knocking off Hinsdale [Central] and coming in with a record of 17-3-3 it’s not a bad season,” Kocimski said. “We got a regional championship under our belt and I know that the underclassmen on the team are going to take this into next season and definitely have a good one next year.”

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