Girls Soccer: Lisle’s return trip to state a surprise

Updated: May 24, 2012 9:15PM

Lisle used a veteran team to finish fourth in the Class 1A state tournament and earn its first girls soccer trophy in 2010.

Two years later, the Lions are back with a much different squad. Lisle will start four freshmen and three sophomores when they face Manteno in the first state semifinal at 5 p.m. Friday at North Central College in Naperville.

Not many expected the Lions (14-10-2) to get this far after a 2-5-2 start with a lineup that includes only one senior.

“I think surprised is putting it mildly,” Lisle coach Paul Kohorn said. “I knew we had a strong freshmen group coming in but we had a lot of work to do. They’re working hard but we’re still not there.”

Five players return from the 2010 squad, including junior starters Skyler Tomko, Vanessa Roach and Christine Young. Tomko leads the team with 18 goals, eight of which are game-winners. Young anchors a defense that has been outstanding in the playoffs in front of goalkeeper Roach, who holds the school record for shutouts and has trimmed her goals-against average from 2.40 last year to 1.46 this spring.

The Lions also rely on two outside midfielders, freshman Kara Laue (five goals, seven assists) and sophomore Elena Pivek (five goals, four assists).

Manteno (21-3), which won the 2009 state title and was second in 2010 after beating Lisle in the semifinals, is led by sophomores Emily Gaither (34 goals) and Sophia Schnitzler (21 goals, 15 assists) and senior Sophie Meskis (13 goals, 17 assists). The Panthers beat Lisle 4-1 and 5-0 during the regular season, but the Lions have playoff wins over three teams that beat them in the regular season.

“We’re going to have to play unbelievably good to hang with them on Friday,” Kohorn said. “That’s our goal; keep it close in the first half and get it going in the second half.”

The slow-starting Lions have won their last three games despite being outplayed in the first half.

“It’s not by design,” Kohorn said. “I don’t need to lose that much more hair. But it’s been exciting. All five playoff games have been tight, so as far as being ready, we’re there.”

In the second semifinal, Richmond-Burton (22-2-2) meets tournament favorite Quincy Notre Dame (26-0). Richmond-Burton, which had never won a regional before this year, is led by freshman striker Amanda Hoglund (48 goals, 16 assists). Notre Dame, which ousted defending champion Alton Marquette 4-1 in the supersectional, is trying for its second title in three years behind Cassidy Foley (35 goals), Shannon Foley (34 goals) and Jordan Frericks (22 goals).

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