Glenbard West has no answer for Lyons Twp. forward pairing
Lyons Township has one of the best forward duos in the state in senior Katie O'Malley and sophomore Caroline Mortonson.
Stopping one in any given game is a difficult feat. Containing both may be nearly impossible.
Glenbard West coach Adam Szyszko can attest to that.
"O'Malley and Mortonson are a nightmare to prepare for," Szyszko said. "They are so good and so fast and so technically good."
O'Malley scored two goals -- both off assists from Mortonson -- in a 91-second span early in the second half of Saturday's Class 3A Lyons regional final. The twin strikes proved to be decisive as the top-seeded Lions rolled to a 4-0 victory.
"We've played some really good forwards, and to have two of that caliber, as a coaching staff it was a lot of restless nights trying to figure out to combat it," Szyszko said. "We didn't have an answer, so they're special."
It was the 10th straight regional championship and 23rd in the past 25 seasons for LT (20-1-1), which will play fourth-seeded Downers Grove South (16-3-1) in Tuesday's Reavis sectional semifinals.
"You've got a give a lot of credit to the kids," LT coach Bill Lanspeary said. "They work really hard.
"(O'Malley and Mortonson) do a great job of looking for each other and looking for other people and playing off of each other."
The Lions led 1-0 when Mortonson fed a lead pass to the Illinois State-bound O'Malley at the top of the box. O'Malley faked Glenbard West goalkeeper Ava Calloway to the ground, took a step to her right and sent a 12-yard shot into the empty net with 35:06 left in the second half.
That seemed to deflate the seventh-seeded Hilltoppers (10-9-3), who conceded again 1:31 later. This time Mortonson made a strong run up the left wing into the box before crossing sharply in front to O'Malley for a short volley and a 3-0 cushion.
"Caroline as a freshman last year already blew us all way, but she came back even stronger this year," O'Malley said. "Having someone giving a pass to me on a silver platter is great because it makes it easy for me."
The rest of the match became easy for the Lions, who did not allow a shot and thoroughly dominated possession.
"I think after the first goal we had in the second half, it really just was like, 'OK, let's keep it going,'" O'Malley said. "I think all we did was calm down and connect passes because before I think we were all just really frantic, with 'Oh, my God, it's playoffs and it's Glenbard.'
"Even though we beat them 6-0 in the normal season, this still could be their last game so they're going to give us everything."
The Lions blitzed the Hilltoppers 6-0 on May 9, with O'Malley and Mortonson combining for 4 goals and 2 assists. But the Hilltoppers, who upset the Lions on penalty kicks in a sectional final last year, hung tough in the rematch.
The game was scoreless until senior Niamh Griffin scored off a goalmouth scramble after an O'Malley corner kick with 7:07 remaining in the first half.
"The first half we were into the wind a little bit," Szyszko said. "All of our clearances kind of hung up, and they're so aggressive on any 50-50 ball.
"It was down our end for a good chunk of the half. After our last game, our goal was to get to half 0-0, and they scored a scrummy goal and that changes things.
"Credit to them. They're unrelenting. They don't stop. They keep coming."
That's doubly true when the Lions have payback on their minds.
"It feels good," Mortonson said, "especially beating Glenbard West for revenge."