Goalkeeper Niko Mavrogiannis comes up big for Lincoln-Way North

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Niko Mavrogiannis has put on a show in the net many times over his four years at Lincoln-Way North.

So it was fitting Tuesday night, in his final regular-season home game, that Mavrogiannis was marvelous one more time.

The senior goalkeeper made five saves, including three tough ones in overtime, then scored the game-winner in the penalty-kick shootout as the Phoenix topped Andrew 1-0 in a SouthWest Suburban Red game in Frankfort.

“We had never won on Senior Night since I’ve been here, so this feels great,” Mavrogiannis said. “We had so many younger players step up and help us out and it was just a great win.”

The Phoenix (10-7-3, 3-3) played spoiler as Andrew (7-8-2, 3-3) came in on a three-game conference winning streak and would have won a share of the league title with the victory.

Instead, Lincoln-Way West and Thornton co-op, which each won Tuesday to secure 4-2 marks, survived the wild Red race to split the crown.

“The boys played well,” Andrew coach Pat MacDonald said. “I can’t fault them. We just didn’t do what we needed to do. We had a lot of chances in overtime and we just couldn’t finish. That’s been our problem. Hopefully we can figure out next week in the playoffs.”

Indeed, Mavrogiannis had to come up big to force penalty kicks.

He made a diving save on a laser of a free kick from Jonathan Sustaita, denied Blake VanBruggen from close in and handled a Sam Abujoudeh shot.

Luke Mackowiak, Kyle Bechtold and Jake Mitchell converted penalty kicks for North while Fabian Sustaita, Sean McLaughlin and VanBruggen scored for Andrew.

Mavrogiannis broke the tie as the final shooter, burying it inside the right post.

“Niko’s been outstanding,” North coach Mike Murphy said. “I can’t say enough about him. He’s a leader and a captain and when something needs to be said, he’ll even tell me ‘Let me do the talking for a few minutes.’”

The 10-win total is the second-most in program history for North, and the last two have been especially impressive.

The Phoenix suffered a big blow last week when leading scorer Ruben Sanchez left the team for personal reasons. In its first game without Sanchez, North was routed 5-0 by Lincoln-Way East.

Since then, though, the Phoenix has bounced back with a big win over Lincoln-Way Central followed by Tuesday’s victory.

“A lot of the young kids have really stepped up and we’ve been able to put something together these last two games,” Mackowiak said. “It’s been exciting.”

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