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Game story: Suda’s heady play lifts Lyons past Boylan

By Matt LeCren, 09/12/23, 12:30AM CDT


Lions extend unbeaten string to 5 with 3-1 win

WEST CHICAGO – Lyons forward Owen Suda is an obvious target on set pieces.

The 6-foot-4 senior’s height gives him an advantage in the air, so naturally the Lions look to him to score on headers.

Getting a head on the ball can be tough enough and then putting it in the net takes the task up a notch. Before Monday, Suda had come up empty this season.

That changed when he rose up to meet a corner kick from Haris Sarjlija and sent a powerful header crashing under the crossbar.

The goal gave Lyons the lead for good in an eventual 3-1 victory over Boylan in the final round of pool play in a Body Armor tournament match played at West Chicago High School.

“He’s capable every game, and he gets on a lot of them,” Lyons coach Paul Labbato said. “This is the first one he’s been able to redirect past the keeper.

“I think he had some motivation there. He wanted to get a goal on a head ball, so that was fantastic for him.”

It was also fantastic for the Lions (6-2-1), who were able to pull away from Boylan (4-3-2) with a dominating performance over the final 30 minutes.

The win was the fourth straight and fifth without a loss for Lyons, which re-entered the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25 at no. 19 on Monday.

Suda’s strike came with 19:27 remaining and broke a 1-1 tie. It was his third goal of the season but first in the atmosphere.

“It was awesome,” Suda said. “I told Haris, ‘Front post, front post, I want this.’

“He delivered a perfect ball to my head, and I did my job.”

Suda’s goal seemed energize his teammates, who were all over the Titans after that.

“Definitely, the whole atmosphere changed with our playing style and how everyone felt,” Suda said. “Our bench got hyped. As soon as one goal gets in, you get moving and you get the ball rolling.”

Mason Burda followed Suda’s goal by putting in an insurance goal on the ensuing shot with 15:46 to go. Suda had a shot stopped, but Burda got the ball about 25 yards out on the right side and perfectly placed roller that nicked the inside of the left post and went in for his second goal of the season.

“It was off a rebound,” Burda said. “The goalie pushed it out and I just got a touch on it. I used the wet surface to my advantage and lined it across.”

The Lions initially did not adapt to the wet turf in the first half, which was played entirely in a steady drizzle. Chris Medina gave them a 1-0 lead with a 27-yard rocket at the 18:19 mark, but the Titans had the better of the play and got the equalizer on a breakaway with 4:29 to play.

“We don’t train on turf, so it’s not easy,” Labbato said. “The first half, every ball that we touched pretty much popped in the air or went to the other team. They were really aggressive in winning balls, and they dominated us.

“Second half, it was the best half we’ve played all season long, by far. We were able to find channels down the sidelines to get guys in. We were taking guys on down here, and I think our touches were much better.”

That contributed to the Lions’ 11-5 shot advantage in the second half. So, too, did an improved attitude.

“I think it was a big mentality change at halftime,” Burda said. “And then after we got that goal off Owen’s head, it all changed. We got after it and I got one.”

Boylan didn’t sniff a shot after Burda’s goal, because Lyons kept the play mostly in and around the Titans’ penalty area. It was a solid performance by the Lions against a quality program that won the Class AA state title in 2021.

“I’ve always enjoyed this tournament because of the unknown, your schedule of teams that you’ve never played,” Labbato said. “We’ve probably played 30 teams that we would never have scheduled over the course of 20 years being in this tournament.

“This was a much-needed win and motivation. Now we’ve got to turn around and play Downers North tomorrow.”

The Lions will cap their run in the Body Armor at the bracket championship round at their West Field complex.

“I think it was an awesome experience, especially since last year we lost two early in this tournament,” Suda said. “For us adapting to these conditions and our pressure the past four games, it has been unreal. It’s really exciting seeing this team evolve to adapt to everything. It’s awesome.”

After losing back-to-back games against Waukegan and Buffalo Grove followed by a draw with Loyola in the Northside College Showcase, the Lions have turned things around.

“It feels good,” Burda said. “It’s really good to see the adjustments we’ve made, and we’re really back in it and where I know we can be.”



Starting lineups



GK: Taylor Balon

D: Colin Sullivan

D: Daniel Svelnis

D: Zach Morgan

M: Declan Kracker

M: Austin Wisinewski

M: Jimmy Brejcha

M: Haris Sarajlija
F: Mason Burda

F: Owen Suda

F: Dellin Bourjaily



GK: Patricio Lopez

D: Max Hernadez

D: Juan Medina

D: Tyler Marquez

M: Tyler Anderson

M: Alvin Hernandez

M: Reese Schlichting

M: Ivan Ibarra

M: Skyler Sanchez

F: Gabriel Casas

F: Pedro Perez


Chicagoland Soccer Man of the Match: Owen Suda, sr., F, Lyons.



Scoring summary


First half

Lyons: Chris Medina (Austin Wisinewski), 22’
Boylan: #18 (not listed on roster), 36’


Second half

Lyons: Owen Suda (Haris Sarajlija), 61’

Lyons: Mason Burda (Suda), 65’