BURBANK – Lyons Township senior midfielder Eileen Murphy played with an ailing right ankle throughout the Class 3A Reavis Supersectional Tuesday.
“My club teammate [Andrew senior Megan Nemec], the first play of the game, was coming up behind me and I was trying to block out the ball,” Murphy said. “She ran through and flattened me and my ankle got caught underneath. You could just hear it. Even she was like, ‘Sorry.’ ”
Afterwards, the overriding feeling for Murphy and the Lions was pure euphoria.
Murphy scored on a 27-yard laser with 4:34 left in the first of two 10-minute overtimes as the Lions prevailed 2-1 to reach the state semifinals against Naperville North at 5 p.m. Friday at North Central College.
“It’s unbelievable. I can’t even describe it. I’m so happy right now. Yeah, it’s a pretty big accomplishment,” said LT midfielder Meara Hilling, a senior tri-captain with Murphy and Grace Truax. “[I’ll remember] the whole thing, honestly the win in the end and how hard we worked the entire game.”
Murphy, an Illinois recruit, also scored for the Lions (18-2-1) with 19:22 left in regulation by heading home sophomore Ava Dallavo’s corner kick. But Loyola recruit Nemec tied the game with 5:02 remaining for the Thunderbolts (21-6-1).
In overtime, an Andrew player put the ball in the air around the center of the field. Murphy gained possession and shot almost instantaneously for her team-high 22nd goal – and perhaps biggest.
“That’s definitely high up there – if not No. 1 – in a game like this. It doesn’t get much better,” Murphy said. “When the girl headed it up, I knew on the spin that it was going to land right over her. She didn’t know where the ball was so I just chest-trapped it and shot.”
This is the Lions’ first state finals appearance since the 2007 Class AA quarterfinals. They’ve won 10 straight after losing 2-1 April 20 at Naperville North (13-5-4), third at state last year.
The past two seasons the Lions lost in the sectional final.
“When that 10-second countdown [to the end] went off, it was just the best feeling ever. This is the furthest we’ve come in a long time for LT so it’s really amazing,” LT senior central defender Bri Stirrat said.
“We were talking this is so worth it, all of our practices, all of the work we’ve put in is leading up to [overtime]. Let’s go in and win this.”
The Lions also won the Glenbard East Sectional over Whitney Young 2-1 on Murphy’s second goal with 21:48 remaining after allowing a tying goal.
“It’s a great feeling of getting over the hump. I was talking to some former players here who are just thrilled because we have been so close [before],” LT coach Bill Lanspeary said. “[Overtime] was a great mentality of we had one mistake, they capitalized on it, let’s come back. It’s a lot of [senior] leadership, a lot of kids who have been here and been really close and that helps.”
The Lions overcame yet another injury after outside defender Truax hurt her left knee 7:15 before halftime. Sophomore Elli Kosonovich played the rest of the match.
“I feel like we’ve built a trust,” Truax said. “Our whole entire team from day one always wanted to go to state. With all of the injuries, we had to try and trust each other more.”
Senior goalie Cara Perez recently has stepped up after a knee injury to junior Sophie Grabis.
“[Overtime was] a little bit of dread, get a little nervous. They’re just such a strong back line so I know that they’ve got me,” Perez said. “I was back here watching [Murphy’s goal], the whole thing, trying to look over Bri’s shoulders. It’s exciting.”