DOWNERS GROVE – After giving up an early goal, Lyons Township could have tightened up. Instead the Lions roared back with five goals.
LT beat York 5-2 in a sectional semifinal at Downers Grove South on Tuesday. The Lions advance to a second straight sectional final, which will take place Friday at 5 p.m. against the winner of Wednesday's semifinal between Hinsdale Central and Benet.
Jessica Bianchi gave the Dukes (12-7-1) the early lead by chipping a bouncing ball over goalkeeper Lidia Breen in the sixth minute. After that the Lions (18-3) took over.
Catherine King headed home a Grace Nasenbenny corner kick in the 25th minute to level the match. Three minutes later Margeret Lynch hit a through ball to Katie Dougherty, who finished with authority to give the Lions the lead.
"I think the nerves got the best of us," senior leftback C.C. Holbert said. "Once they scored we knew they needed to kick it into the next gear."
Right out of halftime the Lions pounced on York. Not even a minute into the half, LT thought they scored, but it was called back for offsides. Two minutes later Lynch was tripped in the box and Sarah Drew converted the penalty kick to double the lead.
Dougherty scored her second by poking in a loose ball after a corner kick in the 46th minute. The Dukes pulled one back from Alyssa Kovatchis in the 50th minute, but the Lions scored a third goal from a corner kick when Erin Fitzgerald headed one in in the 54th.
"We've got a lot of height in the box and we're not afraid to go in for it," King said of LT's corner prowess. "I think that really helps. We've got Grace Nasenbenny taking wonderful corners and they're always on spot."
York graduates just four seniors from the team.
"We only had three girls that had a lot of significant playing time at the start of the year," York coach Don Vana said. "We were up and down early in the season trying to find our identity. Then we finally found our identity and kind of got on a roll for a while and things went really well. I couldn't be happier for the girls in regards to where they've grown to."