BURBANK – Lyons Township senior Chandlar Lay played in Tuesday’s Class 3A Reavis Sectional semifinal with a noticeable large bandage on her right thigh.
“I have hamstring tendinitis,” Lay said. “It’s not going to go away, the pain, until I stop, so I’m just going to play through the season with it.”
Otherwise, Lay and the LT defense have rather quietly had another great season for another strong lineup.
While senior standout Katie O’Malley had another two-goal game, the Lions recorded their 18th shutout in a 4-0 victory over Downers Grove South that matched the respective West Suburban Conference division champions.
LT (21-1-1), the sectional’s No. 1 seed, and No. 3 Hinsdale Central (15-7-2) play for the sectional title at 5 p.m. Friday. The Red Devils defeated No. 2 York 3-0, avenging their 4-1 regular-season loss.
LT defeated Hinsdale Central 1-0 April 18.
“The defense complements the offense. The offense complements the defense. The midfield works really hard,” LT coach Bill Lanspeary said. “I think that’s what makes us good. We’re solid in every aspect.”
The LT defense has allowed just six goals this season, with Lay and Brennan Israel as central defenders, Caroline McKenna, Jillian Herchenroether and Abby Brown on the outside, defensive midfielder Izzi Wirtz, and Sarah Schinker and Nora Ezike splitting time as goalies. They lost outside starter Avery Wengard to a torn ACL in the Hinsdale Central game.
“It took us a while to build up the back, but I feel like we’re coming together again,” Lay said. “Every time our offense scores the first goal, me and Brennan always look at each other and say we have to keep it solid back here. It just takes a weight off our shoulders.”
O’Malley, who now has 19 goals, struck quickly figuratively and literally just 4:11 into the match. O’Malley received a free kick from 20 yards out. Before hardly anyone realized, O’Malley scored on a blast into the right corner of the net.
“I thought I’d take the chance. Especially it would make a difference getting a goal that early on,” O’Malley said. “The goalie wasn’t looking and I didn’t ask for any space and there wasn’t anyone in front of me, so I just shot it.”
O’Malley’s dribbling ability earned another goal 6:55 into the game. Also scoring in the half were Peyton Israel and Izzy Lebar, assisted by Caroline Mortonson.
The Mustangs (16-4-1) had won eight straight and were undefeated in their last 12 matches. They graduate 10 seniors, five who started and two key reserves.
“The first three minutes we looked great, and then all of a sudden, we got caught on the counter. It’s about locking yourself in, and we weren’t – and unfortunately, it kind of set the tempo for the next 15, maybe 20 minutes,” Downers South coach Chris Hernandez said.
Hinsdale Central struck just 36 seconds into its victory, as Claire Snodgrass scored off a free kick from 50 yards out by Ava Elliott.
“I saw it go over my head. I just had the feeling to go after it, and hitting the ball, it was a solid contact and it felt good,” Snodgrass said.
Olivia Healy scored 2:20 before halftime on a rebound. Avery Edgewater scored with 19:33 left after Carter Knotts’ corner kick was left in the crease.
Contributing to the shutout were goalie Katherine Skinner, defenders Elliott, Ryann Knapp, Addisyn Krogstie and Adriana Giannini, and defensive midfielder Peyton Rohn. Skinner stopped two second-half blasts by York’s Finley Ewald.
“We always talk about you’ve got to win the first 10 [minutes],” Hinsdale Central coach Tony Madonia said. “We didn’t necessarily change what we did before. We tried to improve it and it worked out. I can’t say enough about how hard and how well the girls played.”
York coach Stevan Dobric noted how his nine seniors joined the varsity as sophomores during the COVID-affected 2021 season. The Dukes (15-4-2) went from three wins that season to just three losses before Tuesday.
“It’s never fun to chase a game in the first minute, definitely not a playoff game,” Dobric said. “I think they were ready but, unfortunately, things happen. I couldn’t ask any more. They left it on the field.”