Lyons takes down Metea Valley in OT
Updated: September 19, 2011 6:20PM
Lyons forward Mark Pawula had only one thing on his mind after Metea Valley goalie Derek Carothers made an incredible effort to knock his hard one-timer over the crossbar late in the second overtime of Saturday’s Pepsi Showdown semifinals.
“After that shot I was really pissed off,” Pawula said. “I just took my anger out and I decided to score on the next play.”
Pawula did just that 20 seconds later, ramming home a rebound shot from six yards out with 1:54 left to lift the host Lions to a thrilling 2-1 victory over upset-minded Metea Valley in Western Springs.
Lyons (5-2-2) advances to the Pepsi championship match for the second time in three years and third overall. The third-seeded Lions will take on top-seeded and defending tournament runner-up Libertyville (9-1), which beat Morton 3-1 in a rematch of the 2010 title game, in Sunday’s 2 p.m. final at Toyota Park.
For Pawula, who had missed four games with a back injury, it was the first goal of the season.
“I needed to score there,” Pawula said. “We were going to play in Toyota either way [there are two consolation games before the final] but we wanted to be in that final game. It’s an amazing feeling to be there in the championship game and not watching it.”
Carothers, who splits time in goal with Gabe Gongora, did his best to keep Metea Valley (4-2-2) in it. He made three saves in the second half and four more in the overtimes, including one on the decisive play that came after defender Evan Cudone cleared a shot off the line and before Pawula’s goal.
“[Carothers] has been playing great,” Metea Valley coach Josh Robinson said. “He played a fantastic game, great save there. When you get that twice you’re just thinking it’s going to pop out, but they finished it off so good for them. They’re a good team. It was an exciting game and hopefully everybody enjoyed themselves.”
After the Lions controlled play in the early going, the eighth-seeded Mustangs tied the game with 22:36 left in the second half on a goal by Jake Goehring, who knocked in a nice through ball from Zach Bavol. Metea nearly won it with 6:56 to go in the second overtime but Kevin Decker’s shot from a severe angle went just over the bar and Lyons took control after that.
“It shows a lot of character, I think, being able to go nearly 100 minutes and just pull it out,” said Lyons senior midfielder Elliott Borge, whose throw-in set up a goal by Brett Heimerdinger at the 27:01 mark of the first half. “We stayed with it the whole time.”
Borge is the only remaining Lion who played in the 2009 final, an overtime loss to Neuqua Valley, so he’s excited about getting another crack at the title.
“It’s huge for us,” Borge said. “Obviously, last year we didn’t quite make it, lost to a good Morton team [in the semifinals], but [making the final] was one of our biggest goals at the beginning of the season and to be able to accomplish something like that this early in the season is a good stepping stone, I’d say, for us.”