Lansing Christian senior Josh Lyon came up big at the right time, saving two Allen Park Inter-City Baptist penalty kicks to send the Pilgrims into the Division 4 Regional finals at Dearborn Edsel Ford on Tuesday night.
It was almost fitting that Lansing Christian, the top-ranked team in the state for most of the season, and Inter-City Baptist, the defending Division 4 state champion, would not be able to settle things in regulation, and there was not much to separate them in the run of play, which ended scoreless.
Lansing Christian coach Joel VandeKopple was especially happy with his team’s defense, which didn’t allow the Chargers a good shot at goal in the entire contest.
“We’ve been a little bit suspect in the back from time to time this year,” VandeKopple said. “It was definitely a back and forth game, but our conditioning really played a big part of this, and we drew confidence from it as the game went on.”
The Chargers (19-4) may have had a bit more of the possession, but the Pilgrims created the more dangerous chances in the 100 minutes of regulation and overtime, including smacking the crossbar halfway through the first half.
In the shootout, Lyon saved the last two shots he faced, both low and to his left. Jay Noyola, Michael Garcia, Jordan Terry and Jacob Lyon converted for the Pilgrims to win the shootout 4-2. Lansing Christian will face Hamtramck Frontier International for the regional title on Saturday. It would be the Pilgrims’ first regional title in school history.
“We’re going to be stoked,” Lyon said.
VandeKopple took a slightly longer view after defeating a program that has won four state titles and been runner-up once since 2000.
“Allen Park Inter-City Baptist is a Division 4 powerhouse for the last 15-20 years,” VandeKopple said. “We’re trying to get where they are, and this is a great step in that direction.”