Boys soccer: 64 and counting! Dan Lilly breaks Uni career goal-scoring record
Published: Thursday, September 17, 2009 - 3:09am
URBANA — No. 20 takes the ball down the field. He quickly dribbles past the midfielders. He sidesteps a defender and trips up another one with a quick step-over. The opposition goalkeeper stands in front of the net, but without any hesitation the forward takes aim, plants his foot and takes a rocket shot.
For senior Dan Lilly, this kind of scenario has become routine. But in Saturday's game against Sullivan-Lovington, one of his goals wasn't so ordinary. That goal, the 63rd of his career, broke Uni's all-time scoring record for boys soccer.
After being named all-conference and all-area at the end of the 2008 season, Lilly has vigorously trained with his Little Illini Soccer Club team. He also attended Northwestern University’s soccer camp and the Illinois Olympic Development Program this summer.
Then his fourth and final season on the Uni boys soccer team began.
Lilly started out the campaign ranked sixth all-time with 42 goals in his Uni career. After leading the area with 30 goals last year, Lilly was poised to surpass the career record set by Tyson Masar, who scored 62 goals from 1997 to 2000.
As one of The News-Gazette’s Nifty Fifty, Lilly made a huge statement in the season opener against St. Joseph-Ogden. The Illineks dominated the game 17-1. Lilly scored seven of those goals, tying the single-game record held by none other than Masar.
As the season progressed, Lilly continued to play exceptionally well, producing goals and setting up plays for his teammates. All of this led to a 5-3-1 record as the Illineks headed into the Sullivan-Lovington matchup. By that time Lilly had scored 18 goals, bringing his career total to 60. All he needed was two goals to tie Masar's record.
"I knew where I was concerning the record, but I didn't really feel pressure, simply because we still have a lot of games left," Lilly said. "I kind of wanted to get the record out of the way, but I would have been fine with waiting until the next game."
The senior captain didn't need to wait. In the Illineks’ 12-0 win, Lilly made his way into the record book by scoring three times.
In the 22nd minute, Lilly got his first goal thanks to an assist by freshman Tarik Koric. He needed only one more to tie Masar.
Finally in the 37th minute, Lilly scored on a pass from freshman Patrick Wong, equaling the record. But the area's goal leader wasn't done yet. He established himself as Uni's all-time goal scorer in the 46th minute thanks to an assist by sophomore Conrad Schloer.
"I've been lucky to have played with some really good players in the last few years, so it feels good to have scored more than any of them," the forward said. "But I also realize that this record is very dependent on the teammates I have had around me. I have scored a lot of goals for an individual, but the team has also scored a lot of goals for a team over the last four years.”
Now he is within range of setting the Illineks' single-season record. Last year, with 30 goals, Lilly tied Michael Belmont (2006) for the third-highest total in a Uni season behind Masar (32 in 1999) and 2006 alum Al Renner (36 in 2005). With eight regular-season games left as well as the Class 1A postseason, Lilly needs 15 more goals to break Renner's record.
But his objective for the rest of the season is to help Uni — now 6-4-1 overall — play to its potential and beat the teams left on the schedule; Renner’s mark isn’t on his mind.
“If I'm in position to [get the record] at the end of the season, and it happens, then that would be cool," Lilly said. "However I'm not going to change the way I play in order to try and go after the record."
Uni Boys Soccer Top Career Goal Scorers
- Dan Lilly: 64 (2006-still active)
- Tyson Masar: 62 (1997-2000)
- Al Renner: 60 (2004-05)
- Michael Belmont: 54 (2003-07)
- Joe Ciolli: 52 (1998-2001)
- Jeff Thorn: 47 (1991-93)
- Steve Thorn: 37 (1989, 91-92)
- Henry Pollock: 35 (2002-04)
- Justin Park: 33 (2003-05)
- Jacob Seeley: 31 (2004-07)
- Avi Porton: 25 (1987-90)
- Mark Paci: 24 (1986-87)
- Jeff Kang: 23 (1994-96)
- Dave Borgeson: 22 (1989-91)
- Martin Granick: 22 (2004-07)
- Ryan Hedgepeth: 20 (1986-88)
- Andy Seth: 20 (2002-03)
Source: Uni Web site
Uni Boys Soccer Top Single-Season Goal Scorers
- Al Renner: 36 (2005)
- Tyson Masar: 32 (1999)
- Dan Lilly: 30 (2008)
- Michael Belmont: 30 (2006)
- Al Renner: 24 (2004)
- Mark Paci: 21 (1987)
- Justin Park: 21 (2005)
- Jacob Seeley: 20 (2005)
- Steve Thorn: 19 (1992)
- Martin Granick: 17 (2006)
- Noah Isserman: 17 (2002)
- Henry Pollock: 17 (2003)
- Jeff Thorn: 17 (1993)
- Andy Seth: 17 (2003)
- Avi Porton: 16 (1990)
- Jeff Thorn: 16 (1992)
- Steve Thorn: 16 (1991)
- Dave Borgeson: 15 (1991)
Source: Uni Web site