The essential nature of the athlete is to always go forward. Sometimes a little introspection is necessary to jolt a team and help it find its groove.
A week ago, Lyons was bruised and battered, especially emotionally, in the aftermath a 3-0 loss to top-ranked Hinsdale Central, its biggest soccer rival. “Sometimes a loss can wake you up,” senior forward Matt Murphy said.
“On Sunday, the day after the game, we got the seniors together, and then we got the rest of the team together, and we made new goals for our last seven games,” Murphy said.
The team took the lessons to heart.
Murphy scored two goals and the No. 10 Lions showed toughness, energy and sharper execution in a 3-1 victory visiting Rockford Boylan Saturday on a rain-soaked and muddy field in LaGrange.
Lyons (10-2-3) is 3-0 and has outscored the opposition 15-1 since the Hinsdale Central loss.
“Our intensity since the Hinsdale Central game has been great,” Murphy said. “Our practice yesterday was probably our best one of the year.”
Murphy’s two goals pushed his total to a team-high 16 on the season. The Lions jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes. From the start, Lyons demonstrated superior possession time and offensive cohesion. “When it’s wet like this, it’s a huge effort game,” Murphy said.
Sophomore forward Cristian Sanchez controlled a ball that set up Murphy for a point blank shot. “Everybody went hard to the post, we did a great job of scattering their defense, and Cristian played a great ball and all I had to do was hit it hard on target,” Murphy said.
The second score was credited as an own goal off an initial shot by senior forward Frankie Kocimski. Like Murphy’s, the play was the culmination of a group effort. “We did a really good job of starting the attack in the back and getting the ball all the way through,” Murphy said.
Junior forward Alexis Galvez narrowed the deficit after he converted a penalty kick for the Titans (10-4-1) in the 36th minute.
The Lions otherwise slowed the Titans’ strong attack. “Our offense was our best defense,” senior defender Peter Kass said. “We had very very pressure [offensively]. They had to chase us a lot, and that created a lot of open space for us that allowed us to neutralize their attack.”
Lyons mounted several strong scoring chances, a smash from junior midfielder Harry Hilling that Boylan junior keeper Nathan Wisbey made a strong of and two separate headers by Murphy off corner kicks that skipped over the top of the crossbar. Murphy finally put the game away by converting his own penalty kick in the 70th minute after a Boylan player was cited for a handball in the box.
“I don’t really have a strategy with [penalty kicks],” Murphy said. “Most of the time you just pick a spot and go to that spot.”
Lyons’ junior keeper David Fiflis also made several alert plays by smothering or diving on balls that further stymied the Titans.