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Game story: Lyons eases past Lake Forest

By Mike Garofola, 04/07/24, 3:45PM CDT


Lions post 2-0 win in Malnati's opener

GLENVIEW -- Lyons was not hitting on all cylinders from the opening whistle, but when manager Bill Lanspeary's club found its form, it was nothing but full speed ahead.

Goals on either side of halftime by sophomore Zibby Michaelson, and stingy work from the backline helped the Lions (7-0-0) earn their seventh-consecutive clean-sheet in a 2-0 victory over Lake Forest in both team’s Group C opener in the 6th annual Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Classic at Glenbrook South’s John Davis Stadium.

"(It) was not a very good start for us this morning," began Lanspeary, whose club took the lead in its group with three points after Loyola and Glenbrook South tied. “A lot of that is credited to Lake Forest, which came out fast and with a lot of energy and purpose in the first 10-15 minutes.

"It was not our best overall effort of the season, but there's a lot of fight in this team. With our strong play along the back that we've relied on thus far, we got ourselves together. We were able to play some much better soccer, especially in the second half."

Lake Forest manager Ty Stuckslager showed concern in advance of the contest due to the Lions lofty no. 3 spot in the Chicagoland Soccer Top 25 plus the fact that his club entered with just one fixture played thus far. But he exited the match with a wide smile on his face.

"Lyons is always one of the big fish in the Class 3A world. And we're kind of one of those very good minnows in the Class AA waters, who to this date had played just one match to the six they played," began Stuckslager, who became an ichthyologist in his match preview.

"Lyons is scary good, but I thought the girls came out an established themselves right from the start on both sides of the ball. Despite the fact that they were the better team, we turned in a real good 80 minutes which is something that we will build from."

"I am really proud of our team," said Scouts senior Caroline Kaiser, who along with her backline mates had to contend with the aforementioned Michaelson as well as the Lions all-state junior scoring star Caroline Mortonson.

"We haven't played a game since our season opener (March 16) against Highland Park, but we showed so much against one of the best teams in the state. It's a great way for us to start this tournament."

Kaiser shared the Chicagoland Soccer MVP of the Match honor with Lyons senior Josie Pochocki. Both displayed superior efforts on the pitch.

Pochocki was the glue to the Lions midfield, particularly when her club struggled during the early stages. She won balls, distributed and went box-to-box with boundless energy.

"We were not very good in the first 15-20 minutes. We were just off our game. Lake Forest came out and put a lot of pressure on us," said Pochocki, an All-State Watch List member who will play next fall at the University of Southern Indiana.

"Zibby gave us our first goal to help get us going, but it was too close at 1-0 at the half. But this team can defend, and work through these types of situations. It was good to have a game like this to help get us ready for what's ahead."

While Lyons was unable to string any passes together or play through its midfield, they still were able to target, and connect with Mortonson, whose technical trickery, pace and ability to cut in from the left side with speed led to a pair of quality chances that Lake Forest’s all-state keeper Sarah Constantine bravely turned away.

"Lyons brings a lot of physical play, and has no. 7 (Mortonson), who is so dangerous out wide to defend. I was so proud of our physical play and defending today," said Constantine.

Maddy Cummins and Chloe Hvostik powered the Scouts attack from the middle of the park. In back, Kaiser and her partnership with Ryan Rice in the middle stood out.

"Ryan had a great game, and so did Sarah for us in goal," Kaiser said.

Unfortunately, Kaiser, Rice and Constantine had no chance to stop the Michaelson opener which came in the 30th minute.

That's when Izzi Wirtz played a lovely wide ball to Michaelson, who with sublime confidence touched left-right-left-right before unleashing an unstoppable 22-yard effort that went high over the outstretched gloves of Constantine.

"Zibby as a sophomore has really stepped it up this year, and her goal came at a great time for us. It gave us the lift we all needed," said Pochocki.

"(Big) goal for us," began senior Caroline McKenna.

"We just were not playing like we know we can up until that goal from Zibby. It helped us turn things around in the second half."

The Lions had a late chance dashed just before the break when a lovely early diagonal ball from Michaelson found Grace Lanspeary. If not for a strong retreat and tackle by Hanna Sands, the Lyons junior might have gotten in on Constantine.

Brimming with confidence after the intermission, the Lions attack came out with wind in its sails.

A pair of half-chances on frame by Pochocki and Izzy Lebar, both created by Leahla Frazier, kept Lake Forest from getting out of its own end.

Caroline Mortonson was allowed enough time and space to tee-up a left-footer from 22 yards that Constantine turned away nicely.

Lyons continued to make its quality known by forcing a handful of turnovers in the Scouts end. That led to Pochocki, D'Antonio and Caroline Mortonson all going close.

Kaiser and her backline mates Rice, Sands and Ava Walsh remained resolute as Lyons lurked in its hunt of a second goal.

"Despite all the pressure in the second half, I thought we defended really well along the back and in our midfield, even though it was just our second game of the season together," said Kaiser.

Nine minutes before time, Michaelson bagged her team leading seventh goal of the season on a helper from Caroline Mortonson. The score came on a turn that was followed by a spectacular right-footed bomb that went just inside the far post.

"No. 15 (Michaelson) scored two great goals that Sarah had no chance to stop, but we never stopped working during the entire 80 minutes," said a proud Stuckslager, who is in his 30th year at Lake Forest. “You could tell late that our fitness isn't where it needs to be quite yet. It will be soon.”

Next up in group play for Lake Forest is a date at 5 p.m. Monday at Loyola (4-4-2), which drew 0-0 with no. 5 Glenbrook South in Glenview.

Lyons will host Glenbrook South (6-1-1) at 6 p.m. Monday.

When the Lions offense doesn’t fire, they can depend on a stout defense.

"I thought as a group along the back we played well today, Jillian (Herchenroether) Brennan (Israel) and Abby Brown were all very good," began McKenna.

"We began to play more like we can in the second half, but I know we learned a lot from this game as well."

Lyons coach is also bullish on his defense.

"Caroline and Brennan (Israel) have been great centerbacks for us,” Lanspeary said. “Our rotation of Brown, Sofia D'Antonio, Herchenroether, Lanspeary and Claire Mortonson have done really well thus far.

"The second half was much better for us. We finally began to win most of the second balls, which we failed to do in the first half. Our midfield, led by Josie, Izzi Wirtz and Leahla Frazier, took control for us."

Starting lineups

Lake Forest (4-3-3)
G- Sarah Constantine
D- Ava Walsh
D- Ryan Rice
D- Caroline Kaiser
D- Hanna Sands
M- Maddy Cummins
M- Chloe Hvostik
M- Lainey Tabor
F- Lily Remus
F- Taylor Gaston
F- Adah Bodine

Lyons (4-4-2)
G- Anna Bigenwald
D- Abby Brown
D- Brennan Israel
D- Caroline McKenna
D- Jillian Herchenroether
M- Peyton Israel
M- Josie Pochocki
M- Izzi Wirtz
M- Leahla Frazier
F- Zibby Michaelson
F- Caroline Mortonson

Chicagoland Soccer MVPs of the Match: Caroline Kaiser, sr., D, Lake Forest; 
Josie Pochocki, sr., MF, Lyons

Referee: Jaz Zahirovic

Scoring summary

First half
Lyons: Michaelson (Wirtz), 30'

Second half
Lyons: Michaelson (Caroline Mortenson) 71'