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Lions stake claim among elite

SCHAUMBURG – Catherine King is the heart of Lyons Township’s defense.

The Lions were almost without their heart.

King suffered a torn ACL while playing club soccer in the summer. The senior missed out on her final season with LT volleyball in the fall and wasn’t even sure if she could return for the spring high school season.

“It was a really long journey,” King said. “It was really hard. I really wanted to get back for the season. I didn’t know how I would come out of it. I didn’t know if I’d even be good enough to be on the team and play.”

As King voiced her concern of whether she would be good enough, LT coach Bill Lanspeary interjected with a laugh to say that was never a real concern.

Originally King was hoping to play in college, but the injury sidetracked those hopes. She is still hopeful, but for now her focus is on finishing her high school career.

“It’s really nice I get to come out one last time and really finish my senior year and get the season going,” King said. “I’m really happy with the way things have turned out.”

King says she feels about 90-95 percent but has definitely been effective at the back for the Lions. LT won its first eight matches of the season and had five shutouts during that stretch.

Fellow seniors Sarah Drew, C.C. Holbert and Grace Nasenbenny have teamed up with junior goalkeeper Lidia Breen to form the potent back line.

The LT defense did show some cracks for the first time this season in a 4-3 loss to Buffalo Grove on Saturday in a semifinal of the PepsiCo Showdown. With a trip to Toyota Park on the line, the Lions took a 3-1 lead in the second half on goals from Kristen Janicki and Katie Dougherty, her second of the match. However, the 14-0 Bison came back with three goals in the last 20 minutes, including the game-winner with less than two minutes left.

“You get up 3-1 and we’re not used to giving up goals, our back line has been so solid,” Lanspeary said. “In retrospect you wonder with a 3-1 lead if we didn’t take a deep breath and relax a little bit. As soon as we did they were all over us.”

The Lions did show they are one of the elite teams in the state at the tournament, earning quality wins over Libertyville, a 1-0 victory that went to penalty kicks, and Glenbrook South, a 2-1 win with goals from Dougherty and Emily Lange.

“They played unbelievably well through this tournament, this stretch and really all season long,” Lanspeary said. “Glenbrook South is very, very good and Buffalo Grove if they’re not the top team, they’re right there. We can take away from it that we can play with them. We can play with anybody.”

PepsiCo Showdown semifinal

Buffalo Grove 4

Lyons Township 3

LT goals: Katie Dougherty 2, Kristen Janicki

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