WESTERN SPRINGS – Lyons Township senior Elli Kosanovich has been the anchor of a defense that has allowed only one goal this season.
She was solid again in the back on Tuesday, but her talents came to the forefront in a different way in a Class 3A sectional semifinal.
Kosanovich scored the final two goals as the host Lions knocked off Downers Grove South 5-0 in a battle of unbeaten teams. It was the first career two-goal game for Kosanovich, who doubled her season output.
“She’s been just phenomenal for us in the back with her play, her leadership and her poise,” LT coach Bill Lanspeary said. “She’s been awesome, and a couple goals is kind of icing on the cake for her.”
Kosanovich’s goals, which came on a penalty kick with 31:20 left in the second half and a 28-yard free kick at the 4:17 mark, put the finishing touches on a dominant performance by the second-seeded Lions (17-0), who will travel to Lisle to take on top-seeded Benet (18-0) in Friday’s 4:30 p.m. sectional final.
“I was hoping for that hat trick, too, but the goalie had a great save,” Kosanovich said. “The crowd we had tonight was insane, so I think that made everything 10 times better.
“It was an awesome atmosphere to score in. We already had the lead, so it was like the cherry on top.”
Third-seeded Downers South (15-1) already faced an uphill battle in trying to crack LT’s great defense. But the task was made even more difficult by the absence of sophomore striker Emily Petring, who led the Mustangs with 24 goals.
Petring was serving a one-game suspension for being ejected in Saturday’s regional final win over Fenwick. The Mustangs were missing sophomore center back Teyani Sharkey, who was out of town.
“They were a huge part of our team,” Downers South coach Chris Hernandez said. “It made us play without two all-conference players, so we had to change our shape.
“LT has some phenomenal players and they took advantage of the opportunities that they were given.”
It didn’t take long for the Lions to do so. Junior midfielder Eleanor Cosgrove powered home a header off a long ball from defender Ava Pike just 2:19 into the game and the Mustangs never recovered.
“I got a great ball from Ava Pike, so it was just really good to get our team’s spirits up and got us ready to go,” Cosgrove said of her 12th goal. “I feel like it was super important because it sets the tone for the rest of the game.”
Indeed, the Lions controlled most of the action, winning 50-50 balls and keeping the pressure on. Downers South mustered only two shots, both late in the game.
“Wehad a game plan for it,” Hernandez said. “I think it was Mike Tyson that said, ‘Everybody has a game plan until they get hit in the face.’
“That’s exactly what happened. Once the first goal happened it kind of set the tone in terms of challenging for first and second balls and we have a younger team.
“For us it was a little bit of inexperience in terms of how we compete at this level with freshmen and sophomores, but they worked hard.”
The Lions, though, worked harder. They made it 2-0 when Katie O’Malley stole a ball 30 yards from the Downers net and fed Keira Sullivan for a breakaway goal at the 18:28 mark of the first half.
Workhorse midfielder Avery Livingston made it 3-0 when she knocked home a corner 6:15 before halftime.
But the second half was Kosanovich’s turn to shine.
“She’s super strong in the back and then she’s also super strong moving forward,” Musgrove said. “It’s great to see that one of our defenders can score a ton of goals.”