One week in early October, Lockport coach Chris Beal realized this season’s team was a special one.
It started with a 1-0 win over Sandburg. Two days later, the Porters outlasted Stagg 2-1 in a shootout.
“Just mentally, beating Sandburg was huge,” Beal said. “We never play well against them. Then Stagg was a very tough game. We got down 1-0, but the boys composed themselves and came back. In the past, maybe that’s a game we lose. We showed our belief and confidence.”
Those wins sparked Lockport to a 6-0 finish in the SouthWest Suburban Blue. The Porters won the program’s first outright conference title and ended the year with a 15-4-4 record. The 15 wins were a new high for the program.
All that has earned Beal the title of Herald-News 2013 Boys Soccer Coach of the Year.
Although the Porters saw their season end earlier than they had hoped, falling to Marist in overtime in the Class 3A Bolingbrook Regional championship, Beal is proud of what they accomplished.
“It was a good season,” he said. “It’s a little bit frustrating that we went out so early. I thought we could have won the sectional at least. Still, we had the most wins in program history. We went undefeated in conference for the first time. We’re getting the program a better reputation.”
Beal saw a good season in the works during summer play, though he knew he didn’t really have a star.
“The boys had a really good summer league,” he said. “I knew we didn’t have an outstanding individual talent, but we had good talent and we had good team chemistry. I knew if they could all work together and embrace the team mentality, we could have a good season.”
The Porters started the season with a big win over Minooka, then advanced to the Lemont Cup championship match before falling to Plainfield North.
“We have always started slow in the past, but we came out pretty strong at the start this year,” Beal said. “Getting to the final of the Lemont Cup was big for us.”
The victories continued, with a win at Toyota Park over Lincoln-Way East and a victory over Bolingbrook among the big ones before that one historic week in October.
Don’t expect Beal to rest on his laurels.
“We’ve had some measurable success now,” Beal said. “Now we want to make sure we’re competing for the conference title every year. We want to get in double figures in wins and up to 15 every season.
“We want to get further in the postseason now. We want that sectional title.”