LA GRANGE – For college, Emily Lange is returning to the site of the first significant triumph of her youth career.
Lange won a tournament in Cincinnati with current Lyons Township teammates Erin Fitzgerald, Catherine King and C.C. Holbert as part of the Lyons Township Soccer Club squad. It was the first championship the group won together and now Lange returns to play Division I soccer for the University of Cincinnati.
Lange, Fitzgerald, Holbert and Grace Nasenbenny were four-year varsity players together. King joined a year later to form the core of one of the best senior classes to come through the LT girls soccer program.
When Lange, the energetic, athletic and skilled attacking midfielder, heads to Cincinnati for college, she won't soon forget the run she had at LT.
"It's always sad because you played for four years with such a great group of people and you fall in love with high school sports and going to Friday night games under the lights and stuff," Lange said. "I'm excited to start a new chapter because it's that point in life where you experienced four years of high school and you want to see new people and go different places."
With Lange, an all-state selection and the all-area MVP, and Fitzgerald teaming up in the middle to frequently dominate games, the Lions were able to win a sectional title.
"She had a great year for us," LT coach Bill Lanspeary said. "She was kind of a workhorse us for in the middle.
"Lange was so dangerous on corner kicks and getting the ball and going forward. She's a special player and she should have a good career at Cincinnati."
Lange said growing up with the Lions' talented senior class was one of the highlights of her career.
"The seniors are all hard workers, even in school," Lange said. "They're just competitive, hard-working, good people.
"It was a great season. I'm so happy that the year I had was my senior year. It's just something I'll remember for the rest of my life."
Even when Lange was dealing with shin splints early in the season that led to a more hindering hip flexor injury in the postseason, she refused to sit out during her final playoff appearance. Every time she was subbed off, she visibly limped, but she still scored the Lions' only goal and converted her penalty kick when LT lost against Lincoln-Way North in a shootout in the supersectional.
"I was really torn because I wanted to play in the playoffs, but I still have another four years ahead of me so I didn't want to make it worse," Lange said.
Lange, who won't have much time to reminisce on her high school career with college starting in the fall, started playing soccer at six and said Mia Hamm was quickly her soccer idol. Her love of the sport soon followed.
"There's nothing better than waking up on a 55 degree day, it's partly cloudy, it's not very windy and you just lace up your shoes and go outside and say I'm going to play soccer today," Lange said. "It's very refreshing. I'm a very competitive person, but I think I love it because you are competing with a team and you rely on all those girls all the time. You win with your team and that's the best feeling in the world."
About Emily Lange
Jersey: No. 20