Patrick Duncan possesses a large presence for Lyons

SHARE Patrick Duncan possesses a large presence for Lyons

Patrick Duncan is pretty easy to spot on the soccer field. At 6-3, the Lyons senior forward is a physical force. He negates many conventional beliefs about his size. Like the notion smaller, quicker players hold an innate advantage.

In a PepsiCo Showdown semifinal on Saturday, Duncan chased down a ball and overtook a New Trier defender who was 10 yards in ahead of him.

“I think people judge me right away,” he said, “thinking I wouldn’t have the speed, or foot skill, but I’m lucky to have both.”

His goal in the 65th minute propelled the No. 3 Lions (11-2) past the Trevians into the championship with top-ranked Morton on Sunday at DePaul. The game is a rematch of the 2012 final that Lyons won 1-0.

The Mustangs beat the Lions 1-0 in a Class 3A Sectional final last year. That memory haunts returning players like Duncan.

“That really stung when they knocked us out last year,” said Duncan, who is a three-year starter for Lyons. “They have a lot of skill and they have a great goalkeeper [Ian Chacon].

“We like playing against them, and we want to go right at them.”

Coach Paul Labbato underplayed his team’s potential to start the year, believing the combination of heavy graduation losses and the departure of a couple of strong players to club was too great to overcome.

Lyons is as good as ever, behind the strong play of Duncan, senior midfielder Harry Hilling and senior forward Cole Gilchrist. Duncan has nine goals on the season for a Lions’ side running a six-game winning streak.

Duncan grew relatively late, at the start of his freshman year. Getting introduced to the technical demands of the game as a young boy, he learned to develop the skill set of ball handling, passing and shot making.

“I’m definitely very lucky,” Duncan said. “I wasn’t always one of the taller guys, but then I grew a little bit and the footwork carried into my later years.”

Duncan fills the niche of the dominant scoring forward Lyons seemingly manufactures every year, following in the line of former All-Area star Elliott Borge and last year’s leading scorer, Matt Murphy.

“It’s almost impossible to replace Matt, since he was such a great player. We have a lot of open spots because of the seniors that graduated, and I think each of the this year’s seniors realized we needed to take up a bigger role,” Duncan said.

Hilling and Gilchrist are the playmakers, Duncan a finisher. He is the beneficiary of the runs created by his teammates. Unsure of whether he wants

to play in college, Duncan has tabled his recruiting. The focus is on the present and sustaining the early run.

“I think we’re a little bit surprised at how well we’ve done so far,” Duncan said. “But we also knew we had enough skill and enough talent to play the

type of soccer we want, of sharing the ball and playing together.

“I’d say it’s surprising but expected.”

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