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Girls Soccer: Lincoln-Way North tops Lyons in shootout for state semifinals berth

Lincoln-Way North's Grace Sheetz (5) goes up for header against Lions during class 3A Lewis Super-Sectional Lewis University Romeoville IL

Lincoln-Way North's Grace Sheetz (5) goes up for a header against Lions during the class 3A Lewis Super-Sectional at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL on Tuesday, June 03, 2014 | Sean King / For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 5, 2014 6:30AM



Donna Gunn traveled from Florida just to see her granddaughter Bethany Dombkowski graduate Tuesday night.

Dombkowski chose soccer pads over her cap and gown.

“I was really torn about it,” the Lincoln-Way North senior said. “My grandma was kind of upset, but this is my passion. I love to play soccer.”

Neither Dombkowski, nor grandma, soon will forget graduation night that wasn’t.

Dombkowski’s diving stop started a second round of penalty kicks, and Andrea Prado followed with the sudden-death game-winner that sent Lincoln-Way North past Lyons 2-1 in the Class 3A Lewis Supersectional in Romeoville.

The dramatic 100th victory in the history of the sixth-year Phoenix program is a watershed one, with North (22-3-1) landing its first state tournament appearance. The Phoenix, which won the shootout phase 4-3, will play St. Charles East at 5 p.m. Friday at North Central College in Naperville.

It comes two years after a controversial four-overtime supersectional loss to Normal U-High, history not lost on Phoenix coach Michael Murphy and his four seniors.

“We talked about that all week,” Murphy said. “We have juniors and seniors that remember. As a coach you always say that you’d like to go to one state tournament. We’re finally there.”

For much of the second half it appeared Lyons (19-4) was headed to state.

In the 49th minute Grace Nasenberry’s corner found Emily Lange in the box. Lange then headed in a high shot over Dombkowski. Lyons, which beat Lincoln-Way North 1-0 during the regular season, was the aggressor for much of the second half and looked well on its way to its 15th shutout of the season.

In the 76th minute, the Phoenix perhaps caught the Lions too aggressive. Off of a Rachel Pappas miss, Lexi Cesario found Bianca Galassini. The freshman drilled a shot inside the right post past diving Lyons goalkeeper Lidia Breen for her fifth goal of the playoffs.

“We needed to get one in there,” Galassini said. “Lexie gave me the perfect pass and I put it right in.”

Lyons coach Bill Lanspeary, for his part, recognized a noticeable shift in momentum.

“It gave them life, a shot of adrenaline when they needed it most,” Lanspeary said. “I thought we were possessing the ball most of the second half, we had the ball an awful lot and had a number of chances. It seemed like maybe we got caught pressing for a second goal and they caught us on a counter.”

After two overtimes, both teams found the back of the net on three of five chances during the first round of penalty kicks. Cesario’s attempt on the last shot just crept into the net, forcing the sudden-death round.

There, Dombkowski dived to her right to turn away Lyons’ first attempt. Dombkowski, who will play at St. Francis next year, has been in goal for 14 of the Phoenix’s 15 shutouts this season.

“Stopping that one, my heart dropped,” Dombkowski said, “and then I prayed that we’d score.”

Prado answered that wish on the next shot.

“I was a little nervous, but we practice PKs a lot,” Prado said. “I knew what I had to do. Just place it. It’s exciting. I’m happy to send our seniors out this way.”



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