BURBANK — Tony Madonia downplayed his role as Hinsdale Central’s coach in the Red Devils incredible win Friday evening.
“All I do is tinker with things and create a really, really tough schedule,” he said humbly after his third-seeded Red Devils (16-7-2), who were an honorable mention team in the final Chicagoland Soccer Top 25, stunned top-seeded and third-ranked Lyons 2-1 in overtime in the Class 3A Reavis Sectional final at Prato-Wierzal Field.
“The players,” he added, “are the brains of this operation.”
Hinsdale Central senior back and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis-bound Ava Elliott called an audible in a pivotal moment, booming a 40-yard free kick that entered the northeast corner of the goal in the 52nd minute.
That made it a 1-1 contest in pleasant weather conditions.
“That wasn’t the play I had called,” said Madonia, who could not have been more thrilled with Elliott’s savvy act of disobedience. “But I had no problem with her deciding to do what she felt was best for the team.”
“He trusts us,” Elliott said.
“He’s an awesome coach,” chimed in Hinsdale Central senior midfielder Maddy Panveno.
Hinsdale Central sophomore midfielder Avery Edgewater tallied the match-winner in the sixth minute of the first of two 10-minute OT segments. Senior midfielder Carter Knotts fed a 15-yard pass to Edgewater, who hammered a 30-yard, near-post shot past Lions senior goalkeeper Sara Schinker, whose three saves included a penalty kick stop in the 37th minute.
“I turned and saw a clear path that I used to pass the ball to Avery,” said Knotts, who played with constant urgency and poise from the kickoff until the final horn. “She showed great composure while scoring that goal.”
The win avenged a 1-0 loss to visiting Lyons on April 18, upped Hinsdale Central’s regional championship total to seven and secured an Andrew Supersectional berth against second-seeded and honorable-mention Lincoln-Way East (18-4-0) on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Lyons (21-2-1) entered Friday’s sectional final with an 11-game unbeaten streak (10-0-1) that many expected to extend to the state finals. The Lions boasted a sensational season goal-differential of 83-6 and six-straight shutout wins coming into the match. The team had allowed two goals only one other time this season. That came in a shootout loss (2-2, 6-5 kicks) to no. 10 Fremd at the Naperville Invitational on April 21.
With the win in its own regional, Lyons has won 24-such titles in the past 26 years when the state tournament was conducted. The program has captured 14 sectional championships but has not advanced out of the round for the past two seasons. Last spring, the Lions were upset by another league foe, Glenbard West, in PKs.
The state tournament plays no favorites.
“This is tough, to say the least,” Lyons coach Bill Lanspeary said. “You have to give Hinsdale Central a lot of credit. We had the ball deep often (in the Red Devils’ territory), but they did such a good job bottling us up. They always challenge. They also connect well and counter well.”
His Lions got on the board first, thanks to an own-goal credited to Lyons junior forward Peyton Israel in the eighth minute.
The scoring play started when Illinois State University commit and crafty senior forward Katie O’Malley launched a splendid cross that landed a few yards in front of Hinsdale Central’s freshman keeper Katherine Skinner (five saves).
Israel pounced on the service and hit a shot that glanced off a Red Devil’s player and bounded past Skinner.
When Lions keeper Schinker bolted to her right to stop Hinsdale Central’s penalty kick 27 minutes later, it appeared to be Lyons’ day. But a 1-0 lead in soccer is never a source of comfort for coaches or players.
“It can be dangerous, because if you’re up like that and the opponent scores, the opponent gets to enjoy the boost that always comes with momentum,” said highly competitive Lyons junior defender Izzi Wirtz, who had another strong game Friday.
“I thought we had better chances than Hinsdale Central had, but we just couldn’t find the back of the net enough,” she added. “Both teams were aggressive.”
O’Malley and her fine running mate, sophomore forward Caroline Mortonson — a 2022 Chicagoland Soccer All-Stater — applied constant heat with their collective speed and foot skills.
Elliott and Red Devils junior back Ryann Knapp played inspired D during the searing moments. Elliott earned the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor for striking lengthy, accurate free kicks, crushing clearances and netting the dramatic 40-yard shot that altered the complexion of the game in an instant.
“I’m not going to lie,” Madonia, holding the sectional plaque, said. “We’re confident with what we’ve got going as a team right now. I know our record isn’t perfect, but that’s something I’ve never been interested in having. Especially since playing such tough teams as we had all season helped us get to where we are today.”
Lyons, for one.
“What a great program, a classy program, run by classy coaches,” said Madonia, a Sandburg graduate. “The first two to congratulate me after I was named coach at Hinsdale Central (in 2019) were Bill (Lanspeary) and Adam (Newcomb, Lanspeary’s assistant). They called me up.”
Lanspeary praised his group after Friday’s heartbreaking loss.
“I’ll remember a lot about this team, beyond the talent, success and how hard every single one played for me and their teammates,” he said. “The camaraderie and friendships they
formed stood out too. Those bonds will be tremendously meaningful to them for years. It was such a fun group to be around.
“I could not be prouder of the season we had than I am right now.”
Flashback: On April 18, Lyons junior back Caroline McKenna scored off a corner kick from O’Malley in the 64th minute of the Lions’ 1-0 win over host Hinsdale Central in the teams’ West Suburban Conference Silver Division meeting this spring. “I liked our effort in that game,” Madonia recalled before Friday’s rematch at Reavis. “But we’ve gotten better since then.” … Lyons from the league with a 6-0-x mark. The Red Devil’s finished in fourth at 3-3-x. … Hinsdale Central’s only loss in its previous seven games was a road setback to Chicagoland Soccer’s top-ranked team, Metea Valley. The 4-3 loss to the defending Class 3A state champions came in a state tourney tuneup match on May 13, the final day of the regular-season. Metea Valley previously hadn’t allowed three goals in a game since 2017, Madonia noted. Ironically the top-seeded Mustangs were also knocked out of the state tournament Friday in a 4-1 loss to second seeded and fifth-ranked Plainfield North. … Many of Lyons’ players greet their fans with fun gestures during player introductions at midfield. Mortonson steps out of her team line and jumps fairly high to click her heels. Grizzled Cubs fans remember late third baseman Ron Santo executed such a move after wins at Wrigley Field. … Madonia, on the indefatigable, positive-to-the-bone Knotts, who’s a consummate leader: “She brings everything you want to games — and then some.” … Lanspeary said Lions sophomore varsity goalkeeper Nora Ezike has already amassed 10-12 scholarship offers from basketball programs, including a handful of Big Ten schools.
GK Katherine Skinner
D Julia Marinaccio
D Ryann Knapp
D Addisyn Krogstie
D Ava Elliott
MF Carter Knotts
MF Avery Edgewater
MF Claire Snodgrass
MF Peyton Rohn
F Cate McDonnell
F Olivia Healy
GK Sara Schinker
D Jillian Herchenroether
D Caroline McKenna
D Izzi Wirtz
D Brennan Israel
MF Josie Pochocki
MF Carolina Capizzi
F Caroline Mortonson
F Katie O’Malley
F Chandlar Lay
F Peyton Israel
Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match: Ava Elliott, sr., D, Hinsdale Central
Lyons — P. Israel (O’Malley), 8’
Hinsdale Central — Elliott (FK), 52’
Hinsdale Central — Edgewater (Knotts), 86’
Tag(s): Hinsdale Central