Morton hands Lyons first loss
Down one with less than five minutes, Xavier Corona and his teammates weren't shaken. If anything they were stirred.
Corona scored with 3:52 remaining in the second half to force overtime where Jose Montes lofted a 30-yard shot over a stranded keeper with 1:55 left in overtime after a half-clearance to lift the No. 7 Mustangs to a 2-1 upset victory Saturday over No. 1 Lyons in a Pepsi Showdown semifinal in La Grange.
I knew the goalie was kind of caught in between when he tried to clear it,'' Montes said. When the ball came to me, I knew I couldn't give him time to get back into position, so I just one-timed it. We weren't nervous being behind that late. We were relaxed because we knew what we needed to do.''
Morton (11-1-1) will play Libertyville in the tournament final Saturday at Toyota Park. The Mustangs fell short of the finals last season, losing to Neuqua Valley in the semifinals.
Elliot Borge headed the Lions (8-1-2) in front on a cross from Peter Kralovec-Kirchherr with 25:29 to play in the second.
Morton's Joel Salmeron and Lyons' Kyle Kurfirst were the most dangerous players on the field.
Kurfirst dictated the flow of the game with his box-to-box play as the Lions put their height advantage to use lobbing crosses into the Morton penalty area.
"[Lyons] is the real deal, they outplayed us for most of the game," Morton coach Mike Caruso said. "But our defensive effort was there the whole game. We're smaller, and we just battled.''
Salmeron nearly orchestrated a game-tying score a minute after the Mustangs went behind when he out ran the Lyons defense to a ball on the right wing and sent in a promising cross that forced a sprawling grab from Lyons goalie Kevin Beglen (five saves).
We've wanted this since last year,'' Salmeron said. We kept with it, didn't give up and now we're playing in Toyota Park next week. We just have to finish it off now.''
Kenny Kucinski (five saves) made several strong stops in the second half, including a header from Borge that was nearly identical to the shot that gave Lyons the lead.
Corona and fellow Morton defenders Toribo Romo, Hector Ibarra and Pedro Barrera did well to deal with three corners and several long throw-ins into the box in overtime before Montes netted the winner.
"It was frustrating way to lose," Kurfirst said. "We're hoping we get to see them again. It took us a few games last year before we beat Neuqua Valley and when we did it was when it counted, so we definitely want another crack at [Morton]."