Lyons freshman Cristian Sanchez sampling high school soccer
Northlake Monday 08.27.12. Lyons' Cristian Sanchez (center) tries to get past Leyden's Tony Guzman (left) and Anyer Gonzalez (right) during their match on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012, in Northlake. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 14, 2012 12:57PM
NORTHLAKE — Cristian Sanchez is good enough that he didn’t need to play high school soccer this season.
But instead of focusing on the club level, the Lyons freshman wanted to compete for his school.
Part of the reason for that is his older brother, Horacio, was a four-year standout and 2010 all-stater at Lyons.
A moment of family pride came when his brother helped the Lions capture the 2009 Class 3A state championship.
Horacio also competed at the academy level at a time when there was no conflict between its season and high school’s.
It’s different now for elite players and at least for this season, Lyons is thrilled to have the younger Sanchez.
“Cristian is another special player from a great family,” said coach Paul Labbato, who also coached Horacio. “He was forced to make a decision and his family felt that the experience of team and community was something they were looking for.
“It says a lot about the school program that it’s good enough to bypass a special opportunity. Cristian is one of the best center backs at his age group so it’s nice for him to have an opportunity to play up top and use some other skills.”
Although he doesn’t know what the future holds for him, Cristian is happy to be playing with the Lions this year.
Lyons won its opening round game Saturday at the Pepsi Showdown over Bartlett 2-0. Quarterfinals are Thursday and semifinals are Saturday at Lyons.
“I’m really psyched for high school, but I also really like the club,” Cristian said. “So I wanted to try high school for a year and see what the experience was like. I’m very happy that I made this decision.
“It was amazing to watch my brother’s team win the state championship and I wanted to experience that. It means a great deal to play at LT since the community is great and we have fans who really support us.”