With the sectional championship looming, Marist senior goalkeeper John Kennedy walked into the school gym determined to confirm some history.
He’d heard that the RedHawks hadn’t won a sectional title in 20 years, but he wanted to be sure. An entry on the soccer sign on the wall proved it: Sectional Champs 1999.
“I stopped in the gym to see. On Thursday with the snow and weather, we practiced inside. We were all looking up there,” Kennedy said. “We were determined. We were ready to change that.”
Unfortunately, a new entry on the banner will have to wait as the RedHawks’ postseason run came to an end with a tough 3-2 loss to Lincoln-Way West (LWW) on Nov. 2 in the Class 3A Lincoln-Way East sectional championship.
Marist finished the season 16-6-5.
Kennedy, a three-year varsity starter, finished with 7 saves.
“At the very least, we wanted a sectional championship since it hadn’t been done in 20 years,” Kennedy said. “This should have and could have been our year, but it wasn’t. A few unfortunate happenings, but I’m proud of everyone. We played a great game and just came up a little short.”
Senior Joey Shannon and senior Ethan Fit scored a goal apiece for the RedHawks. Shannon buried a penalty kick with 14:35 remaining in the first half.
After LWW scored 3 straight, Fit knocked in a shot with just 10 seconds left in the game, but the Warriors booted the ball downfield as the final horn sounded.
Shannon (Evergreen Park, Central Junior High) is also a three-year varsity starter.
“[This run] means a lot,” Shannon said. “All these guys wanted to win the game just for the senior class. We put our best step forward, but we came up short. It sucks, but I’m proud of the team.”
After Shannon’s PK score, LWW answered with a Tyler Vedder header off a corner to even up the score.
With both teams unable to break the tie through the first 20 minutes in the second half, Marist earned another penalty kick after Fit was taken down hard by a LWW defender in the box.
Taking the shot, Shannon’s blast deflected off the left post, and LWW goalie Chris Zavala fell on the ball.
The Warriors scored a little over a minute later on a Drew Murphy header.
Marist controlled possession for much of the game with LWW having its only success on quick counters.
“We do our best to win the 50-50 balls and look to get it inside,” Shannon said. “We want to play from there and get it outside to our wings.”
LWW played down a man over the final 7:30 after a player earned 2 yellow cards.
Coach Sean Maxwell has led the Marist boys soccer program since 2005, and while his team was disappointed in the end result, he reminded the RedHawks that they still achieved something special.
“They knew the history. Twenty years is a long stretch,” Maxwell said. “They have to look at the big picture as tough as the loss is. You have to realize the mark you’ve made. They’ve done something special even if we didn’t walk away with the win. It was a heck of a run.”
Since a loss to Benet Academy on Sept. 25, Marist went 9-2-3 over its final 14 games.
“We went on that winning streak at the end of the season and really started jelling,” Shannon said. “We thought to ourselves ‘Man, we can really do this.’ We won the first couple of playoff games, and you think you’re going to do it. Props to Lincoln-Way West.”