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Dougherty comes back to soccer, scores game winner against rival Red Devils

Lyons Township's Kristen Janicki (right) clears the ball during Thursday's game against Hinsdale Central. The Lions won the rivalry game 1-0 on Katie Dougherty's late goal.
Lyons Township's Kristen Janicki (right) clears the ball during Thursday's game against Hinsdale Central. The Lions won the rivalry game 1-0 on Katie Dougherty's late goal.

LA GRANGE – There are many paths to playing college sports, but Katie Dougherty took one of the more unusual ones.

Two years ago Dougherty wasn't even playing soccer. On Thursday, she scored the only goal in the big 1-0 win against Hinsdale Central to snap a three-game losing streak against LT's biggest rival and seal the West Suburban Silver title.

She played softball her first two years of high school and wanted to get back into soccer her junior year. She didn't make the varsity team and played on junior varsity.

"It's one of the downsides of having a tryout inside on a basketball court," LT coach Bill Lanspeary said. "You can't see what she gives us so that's a huge coach's mistake right there. Luckily I got a chance at redemption this year and she's awesome. She's been great and a great team player."

The Lyons Township senior forward is now set to play for Swarthmore College, a Division III program in Pennsylvania.

Dougherty worked her way onto the varsity team this season and immediately has made an impact as a speedy option up top to partner with dynamic Division I bound attackers Erin Fitzgerald and Emily Lange.

"It was a tough tryout and there's so many good girls at this school, a huge school of 4,000 [kids], so it's really tough to make the team," Dougherty said. "I'm honored to be on the team.

"I wanted to play in college really badly so I've just been working really hard to get there."

Her game-winner against the Red Devils came with just under 10 minutes to go on a rebound after her initial shot was saved.

"This team is truly amazing and I'm really happy that I was able to play with them," Dougherty said. "Hinsdale is our biggest rival, so this really felt great."

It wasn't the first big goal she has scored this season. While Lange is the team's leading scorer, Dougherty has notched goals against some of the tougher teams LT has faced.

Lanspeary mentioned her as a potential breakout player before the season, and she has delivered with both key goals and assists.

"When I highlighted that, I didn't know that I was going to get what we've gotten out of her," Lanspeary said. "She scored two against Buffalo Grove [in a PepsiCo Showdown semifinal], that's a big-time game, one against Glenbrook South in a big game. She's scoring them in big games for us, too, not beating up on some of the other ones."

LT could see the Red Devils again. The Lions are the top seed in the Downers Grove South sectional while Central is the No. 2 seed.

Before then, the Lions will be happy to savor a win against their rival after recent setbacks.

"We've lost conference to them, we got knocked out in the regional final my sophomore year and then the sectional final last year," Lange said. "This was definitely a big one and I think we're all very excited about this one."

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