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Cause for celebration: Lyons doesn’t let runner-up finish spoil its party

By Steve Millar
Correspondent

For Lyons senior forward Ava Dallavo there was no hesitation. She and her teammates grabbed a jug of ice water from their sideline and gave coach Bill Lanspeary a celebratory ice bath.

The Lions had just lost the Class 3A state championship game in a 1-0 heartbreaker to O’Fallon at Hoffman Estates on Saturday, but they were still enjoying the moment.

“Why would we not celebrate?” Dallavo said. “It’s still amazing to finish second. 20-1 is still great.

“For a lot of the seniors, we’ve been playing since U8, so it was kind of like a last game celebration of playing together one more time. This was a tough loss, but we’re still proud of everything we were able to do.”

O’Fallon (20-2) won its first state championship behind a goal from Kiley McMinn, who fired in a free kick from 25 yards out four minutes into the second half.

The Lions (20-1), who matched the 1997 state runner-up team for the program’s best finish, could not find the equalizer despite creating some late chances. Dallavo fired a shot off the side of the net with seven minutes left.

Fighting until the very end, Lyons had two opportunities in the final minute. Jordan Lee-Caracci, who scored the game-winning goal in three straight matches — the sectional final, supersectional and state semifinal — got in on goal but had her shot saved by O’Fallon goalkeeper Grace Vincent.

The last chance came on a free kick from 25 yards as Elli Kosanovich played the ball into the box and Avery Livingston was able to fight through traffic and get a shot on goal, but Vincent saved it.

The biggest near miss for Lyons came late in the first half when Dallavo fired a shot off the crossbar.

“If I just hit that a little bit less, it would have gone in,” she said. “It’s that one shot, the one goal, the one save, that changes the game and wins the state championship.”

Nonetheless, Lanspeary was proud of his team.

“These kids love each other and love playing together,” he said. “From day one, they loved coming out to practices and games. They were excited to be there. After having last season taken away from us, we really cherished every moment together.”

Izzy Lee made five saves for the Lions.

Lyons rallied for a 2-1 win over Barrington in Friday’s semifinal. After Jen Devona scored for the Fillies (17-3-2) just eight minutes into the game, it took the Lions only 77 seconds to respond as Reese Komsthoeft scored off an assist from Dallavo.

Lee-Caracci then provided some more heroics, scoring another game-winning goal in the 30th minute. Kosanovich made a strong run down the right side of the field and sent a cross in that Lee-Caracci was able to volley into the back of the net.

“I’m going to be honest, I’m kind of used to it now,” Lee-Caracci said. “The adrenaline keeps pumping. I’m always ready for it. With the team behind me and the fans, I know we can do it.”

Lyons held on in the second half despite steady pressure from Barrington.

Lee, who made six saves, came up big late. She leaped to knock Riley Raynor’s shot over the crossbar with just 30 seconds left.

“I wasn’t even running and I was out of breath,” Lee said. “It all just kind of happened in a flash and I just kind of reacted.”

After a fourth-place finish in 2019 and the state runner-up finish this season, Dallavo is confident the Lions have big things ahead after her graduation.

“Ever since we got to state in 2019, we just wanted to get back,” she said. “I think with our coaches and the young players on this team, they’ll be back again. It’s a great program.”

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