Boys Soccer: Evan Lucas, Benet outlast Lyons in penalty kicks, advance to face Morton in sectional final
By Scott Schmid
BERWYN – In a sectional semifinal between evenly-matched squads, neither Benet nor Lyons Township deserved to lose Tuesday night.
But with the help of goalie Evan Lucas, it was the defending Class 2A state champion Redwings moving on after a 3-2 victory in penalty kicks.
Benet improved to 15-5-1 with the win and advanced to Friday’s sectional championship against host and top-seed Morton. Those two teams already met once this fall with the Mustangs prevailing 2-1 on Sept. 24.
Tied 2-2 after regulation and two overtime periods, Lucas made a diving stop on the Lions’ first penalty kick. The junior then watched as two other attempts hit the crossbar and right post.
“It felt great,” Lucas said. “I’m just excited, these guys didn’t deserve to go home tonight. We’ve worked so hard all season. Im happy that I was able to come through for the guys.
“I went through a lot of emotions. I was upset about the goals I let in during the game, I thought I could have had them. I had to regroup after overtime. After that last shot hit the post, it was one of my favorite feelings, one of my favorite moments. It was the best feeling.”
Benet made all three of its penalty kicks, with Nico Picha, John Kolb and TJ McVey each converting.
Kolb had scored the first goal of the match eight minutes into the first half off a cross from Andy Nash. McVey then put his team back on top 2-1 with just over 10 minutes remaining with another penalty kick.
“Both of us are in a really tough sectional,” McVey said. “This could easily have been a supersectional match, it’s just unfortunate it had to come so early.
“We were resilient on defense and we practice penalty kicks and we did what we practice. We knew it could come down to that.”
Benet also defeated the Lions 1-0 during the regular season.
“LT is a great team,” Benet coach John Wesley said. “We love winning and it’s a fantastic feeling but it’s a shame that someone has to lose on penalty kicks. They gave 100-percent too.”
LT scored both of its goals off long throw-ins by Jackson Sullivan. Each traveled into the box where Colin Sullivan headed the first one into the goal with 16:18 left in the second half. Aidan Hilling was the recipient of the second one and his header tied the score at 2-apiece with 8:36 on the clock.
Playing an incredibly tough schedule that included wins over top seeds Naperville North and York, the Lions finish with a mark of 17-6-1. Most impressive, the team gave up just 10 goals in the season, three of which came via a penalty kick. Sixteen of their wins were shutouts.
“This was a great game,” LT coach Paul Labbato said. “Benet was fantastic all game long. They are very strong defensively.
“We really rebounded after the first half and put a lot of pressure on and I was really excited to get those couple goals back. I thought we had a couple of chances in the second overtime and then it came to penalty kicks. But we had a fantastic season.”
Morton improved to 19-1-3 on the season with a 2-0 win over Mt. Carmel in the earlier semifinal.
The Mustangs received second half goals from Giovanni Alvarez and Max Aquino. Deyair Ruiz and Ismael Zepeda had assists.
“We did a good job of marking their best guy (Marco Valencia),” Alvarez said. “I grew up with him and I know how he plays and he knows how I play. He had done a great job marking me until I was able to get free and score.
“But we have to give that game to our defense. They don’t get a lot of credit but they came up clutch. They would have scored a lot of goals if they weren’t there. Now we’ve just got to keep going.”