By Mike Garofola
Daily Herald Correspondent
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When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Barrington Community Stadium
Who: Fremd (17-3-2) vs. Barrington (17-6-1).
Storyline: The Vikings, who were clearly the best side in their sectional, return to the supers for the second time in three seasons with a handful of holdovers from the 2009 club which became the runner-up to Hinsdale Central. The Fillies are back for their third consecutive appearance in the Elite Eight, following a rare fourth-place finish in the Mid-Suburban West, which produced an astounding four sides in the Sweet 16.
Who to watch: Fremd -- Elise Kotsakis (Sr., F, 35 goals), Michelle Mottonen (So., MF, 13 assists), Alexis Tice (Sr., MF), Kristin Abruscato (Sr., D), Emily Basten (Jr., D), Jen Freeman (Sr., D), Shannon Norris (Jr., GK, 7.5 shutouts). Barrington -- Emily Hyde (Sr., F, 11 goals, 9 assists), Molly Pfieffer (So., F, 13 goals), Kelly Pedersen (Sr., GK, 14 shutouts), Emmelie Hirdes (Sr., D), Mia Calamari (Fr., D), Aimee Pierce (So., MF), Catie Curran (Sr., MF), Sarah Fox (Sr., MF).
Lowdown: With its water-tight backline, boundless energy in the middle of the park from Tice and one of the premier strikers in all the land in Kotsakis, the Vikings arrive here full of confidence. Abruscato, Basten and Freeman have kept nearly everything in front of them during the postseason, while coach Steve Keller has received plenty of production off his bench to give the Vikings the extra bonus of keeping fresh legs for 80 minutes. The Fillies are finally near 100 percent healthy, and their play and subsequent results have proved how important it was to have everyone back and fit to play. Fillies hard-working duo in the midfield of Curran and Fox run forever, and tackle with gusto, something the club had missed when both were out of the lineup, and the duo of Hyde-Pfeiffer has been playing at peak performance ever since the closing week of the regular season.
Corner flag note: Fremd defeated Barrington 2-1 in lone meeting of the year on a goal in the 78th minute from Mottonen.
They said it: "Our seniors (Kotsakis, Tice and Abruscato) have not allowed us to lose during the postseason -- in fact -- they've almost willed us to win. You see it when the team is prepping during warmup before our matches, and with the way they provide so much energy and passion during the games. We'll have to focus on sound defense, and make (Barrington) earn everything tonight, then look to play through Michelle in the middle, and finding ways to get Elise in for a few good quality chances. If we keep the ebb and flow under control and in our favor on that big wide field at Barrington, we should have a terrific chance to advance." -- Fremd coach Steve Keller
"We've had a few bumps along the way this season, but while some may have not believed in us, I can tell you the girls never doubted themselves (throughout) it all, and it maybe is one of the great qualities about this team. The girls are very excited about being in this game, and knowing that they're a win away from getting to the state tournament. Personally, I am very proud of all of them, and very proud of the MSL West for having three teams still alive. It says a lot about the conference, and our division as well. We're playing our best soccer of the year right now, but we'll have to be at our best in order to beat Steve's team, because they might be playing the best of anyone in the tournament." -- Barrington coach Ryan Stengren
Advancement: Winner to Friday's 5 p.m. state semifinal at North Central College in Naperville against Homewood-Flossmoor or Granite City from the Normal Community supersectional.
At Elk Grove
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Robert Haskell Stadium
Who: Conant (19-4-0) vs. Loyola (24-0-3)
Storyline: Nearly everyone from Conant's 2009 club which finished fourth in state is still around as it looks to join one of its MSL West rivals in the state tournament this Friday afternoon. That includes two-time all-state junior Courtney Raetzman, who is clearly among the best in this season state-wide. The Ramblers will likely be anointed the No. 1 spot atop the polls after their first sectional championship last Friday came at the same time No. 1 Neuqua Valley was upset by Naperville North. The 3-time GCAC conference champs also won the Pepsi Showdown for the second time in three seasons in mid-May.
Who to watch: Conant -- Courtney Raetzman (Jr., MF, 22 goals, 14 assists), Kaitlin Chiero (Sr., F, 18 goals, 9 assists), Chrissy Rosales (Jr., MF), Kelsey Foss (Jr., D), Kelly Lomas (Sr., D), Sammi van de Linde (Jr., MF, 10 goals, 9 assists), Paige Wentzel (Sr., MF, 9 assists), Lindsay Fillingim (Sr., GK, 14 shutouts). Loyola -- Carly Stevens (Sr., GK, 24 shutouts), Laura Gardner (Sr., F, 24 goals), Carrie Schoeneberger (Sr., MF) Carrie Smith (Sr., D).
Lowdown: Cougars are one of the best at playing possession and building from the back around, and while it all begins and ends with Raetzman and Chiero up top, there is plenty of talent all around Jason Franco's first-11. The next three or four he brings on to help continue to play attractive, attacking soccer, which has confounded opponents all season long. While the MSL West champs have scored a bucketful of goals (81) to crush many of its victims, it's the unsung backline of Foss, Lomas, Kim Trinco and Drew Wentzel that has stood out in front of Fillingim, who has been dazzling as well. The Ramblers are a big, strong club who like to throw people forward coming out of the back, with the knowledge that it has a two-time all-state keeper in Stevens. The club is led by an outstanding quartet, beginning with the superb striker Gardner, who is on her way to Notre Dame next fall, then the Michigan-bound Schoeneberger, who distributes and directs the attack with composure and style from the middle.
Corner flag notes: Both sides defeated Maine South 3-1.
They said it: "Loyola is a great team, which has a lot of size and strength for us to deal with, but we've played a highly competitive schedule all season long, including Neuqua, who we (still) feel is the best in the state, and someone that we played even for 45-plus minutes. We'll have to be wary of their set-piece chances because of their size, but we also know that we have the players which can create chances in their end, and if we can get one or two of those into the back of their net, we (know) that we have the people in the back who can defend to help us get the victory." -- Conant coach Jason Franco
Advancement: Winner advances to Friday's 7 p.m. state semifinal at North Central College in Naperville against Naperville North or York from the Benedictine University supersectional.