Lyons Township High School defeated the Glenbrook North Spartans 2-1 thanks to a last-minute goal mouth scramble in the opening pool game of the Northside College Showcase.
The Lions took an early 1-0 lead in the 13th minute of the first half. A shot from Eric Gradilla deflected off a GBN defender and nestled into the bottom left corner of the net.
Lyons continued to mount first half pressure, but crucial saves by Spartan goalkeeper Daniel Spencer kept it a one goal game at the half, even as the usually potent GBN offense was kept at bay by a stout Lyons back line.
GBN head coach Paul Vignocchi said: “We’re kind of known for our offense, they’re known for their defense so it was strength against strength. We made a couple of mistakes in our back and they capitalized on it.”
After halftime, GBN picked up the pressure, utilizing their speed down the wings and sending long passes, over the top to beat the Lyons defenders.
The breakthrough finally came with just six minutes to go in the match when a ball in the box landed at Mason Rose’s feet who coolly slotted the ball home.
GBN had a chance to take the lead just one minute later, thanks to Deng Deng Kur, but a powerful shot from the GBN forward was tipped over the bar by Lyons keeper, Matt Vear.
Surviving the offensive onslaught, Lyons managed to find an opening on the counter attack.
A dangerous ball into the box was initially saved by Spencer, but GBN was unable to clear their lines and Lyons pounced on the opportunity, scoring a gritty goal to give them the lead, and the win.
Vignocchi said: “I was happy with our second half performance, I thought we worked a lot harder in the second half than in the first half, but just a couple of things didn’t go our way today.”
Even though it was a disappointing loss for GBN, the early season tournament provides a great opportunity for the Spartans to sharpen their game before the conference season.
The Northside College Showcase is one of the best early season soccer tournaments in the state of Illinois. Five of the eight teams in the tournament won regional titles last year, and three of those regional winners went onto play for a sectional championship.
“Every team is different in the way that they play,” said Vignocchi.
“I couldn’t care less if we go 0-4, as long as we understand where we need to improve on, and what we need to do to get better going into conference play and the state playoffs.”
The next round of pool play will be on August 29th. Lyons will face Libertyville at 5:00 PM and GBN will follow immediately after with a match against conference foe, Niles West.