Coach: Mike Taylor
Mike McGrath Sr., GK
Stefan Miller Sr., GK
Tom Martin Jr., GK
Jason Ziolkowski Jr., D/M
Kyle Sukowicz Sr., F
Spencer Moore Jr., M
Mateo Leudo Jr., M
Kevin Klinkenberg Jr., M
Ross Randon Sr., M
Ashwin Cornelius Sr., M
Mitch Ryan Jr., M
Jackson Owens Sr., M
Ben Quiaot Jr., M
Jack McNamara Jr., M/D
Ryan Henry Jr., M
Mark Beletti         Sr., D
Michael Duszynski Sr., D
Ethan Wolf Jr., D/M
Nick Eschbach Jr., M/D
Andy Smith Jr., F
Jon Surdam Sr., D
Troy Wheeler Sr., D/M
Kevin Ruth Sr., D
Kevin McMahon Jr., M
Mark Tun Jr., D
Philip Jacobs Sr., D
Nick Winter Jr., M
Kyle Koss Jr., M/D
Stephan Todd Jr., D/M
David Zakrzewski Sr., F
Jordan Tully Jr., D
Dominic Perrone Jr., F
Alex Quist Jr., D/M

Lions go out on a high note
By Gary Larsen


You don’t normally see state finals consolation games fueled by as much passion as Saint Viator and Wheaton Academy showed on Saturday.

Roughly 24 hours after the Lions didn’t meet their own standard of play in 2-1 loss to Urbana, they played hungry throughout a 2-1 win over the Warriors in a Class 2A third-place game played at Lincoln-Way North.

“We didn’t want to finish our season with a loss,” Lions goalkeeper Mike McGrath said. “We wanted to be one of the two teams that finish with a win. It’s frustrating that it’s not (the state title game) but finishing with a win is always good.”

The other 2A team to finish with a win was Peoria Notre Dame, which won the state title with a 3-0 win over Urbana.

The Lions put a bow on a 21-4-3 season for coach Mike Taylor, and the veteran coach of 32 years was glad to see his boys respond to Saturday’s challenge.

“We came to play today. If we played like that yesterday I think we would have done all right,” Taylor said. “Wheaton Academy is a good team and we played well with our starters in there, we connected passes, and if we had chosen to do that yesterday maybe we’re playing in (the state title) game.

“We just told the kids to come out and play loose. I told them we’d play all twenty-two kids for at least five or ten minutes, and every kid got in the ball game. Five years from now the difference between third and fourth is immaterial, but today you just want to finish with a win.”

The Lions third-place trophy is the eighth piece of state finals hardware the program has earned in Taylor’s 25 years at the helm, during which the program has won two state titles, finished second once, placed third four times and fourth once.

The bar is set up high at Viator, and Taylor was happy to see this year’s crop of seniors meet the challenge.

“I’ll miss my seniors. They’ve done a nice job,” Taylor said. “I’ll miss them all in their own way and it’s been a good season. We got to the final weekend. Only four schools can do that and only two schools can win their last game and we were one of them, so I’m very, very proud of them.

“I’m proud of Wheaton Academy, too. I like their program and I like Jeff Brooke. He’s a very good coach and you know you’re always going to play soccer against them.”

The Lions earned a 2-0 lead on Wheaton Academy (21-8) thanks to a first-half goal by Nick Winter and a Kevin Klinkenberg goal off a Winter assist in the second half. The Warriors cut their deficit to 2-1 on a Zeb Lewis PK conversion at 66 minutes, and the game’s final 14 minutes were played in fifth gear by both sides.

When it was over, Viator hoisted the third-place trophy and aimed to put Friday’s semifinal loss behind them.

“Yesterday we didn’t come out and play as well as we could. We dominated the majority of the game but couldn’t put away our chances,” senior Ashwin Cornelius said. “We gave up maybe two or three shots and they capitalized on those.  Today we came out, it was a no-pressure game, and we got the win.”

The Lions will bid farewell to senior captains Wheeler, Cornelius, and McGrath, along with seniors Jackson Owens, Michael Duszynski, Jon Surdam, Kyle Sukowicz, and Ross Randon. Cornelius and Wheeler were both named as all-sectional players this year by the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association.

The Lions return junior coaches’ all-state forward Spencer Moore (5 goals, 18 assists) and fellow junior Nick Winter (11 goals, 2 assists) next year, along with juniors Klinkenberg, Mateo Leudo, Jack McNamara, Ryan Henry, Ethan Wolfe, Nick Eschbach, Kevin McMahon, Mark Tun, Dominic Perrone, and Tom Martin. Sophomore Zach Gyuricza and freshman Miles McDonnell will also return in 2013.

The Lions advanced to the semifinals of this year’s Pepsi tournament, won the Mid-State Classic tournament, and placed second in the East Suburban Catholic Conference, before reeling off five postseason wins in advancing to this year’s state semifinals.

 “The kids had a good season and I’m proud of them.  I finished with all my seniors on the field,” Taylor said. “We’ve still got a young squad coming back. I told the younger kids that I expect to be back here next year, to play on this weekend.”

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