Barrington booked a spot in its own boys soccer tournament final for the first time since 2008 after defeating St. Charles North 1-0 Thursday night to earn 3 vital points and the top spot in pool play of its division.
Jack Hoots helped his club claim top honors with his goal in the 24th minute.
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Barrington (3-1-1) will meet Rockford Boylan (3-2-1) at 6 p.m. Saturday inside Barrington Community Park. The Titans topped Wheaton Warrenville South 3-0 to capture top honors in the red group division.
"We kind of hung on to this one tonight," said Broncos coach Scott Steib, who watched his team get off to a perfect start leading up to the Hoots goal before managing to hold off the North Stars (2-2-1). St. Charles North threw everything forward in the final 20 minutes as it searched for the equalizer.
"We just weren't as sharp as we needed to be in the final third," said North Stars junior Phillip LeGare, who was stationed just inside the 6-yard box in the 80th minute alongside teammate Kyle Swanson in hopes of finishing a well-aimed free kick from Sebastian Gostynski.
"It was a lack of execution on our part for most of the match," said St. Charles North coach Eric Willson. "Especially in the final 15-20 minutes, when were in their end nearly the entire time but didn't do the little things to finish."
It was clear in the early stages the Stars would look to target both Simone Sperarti and Swanson, who together up top gave the Broncos' back line plenty to think about.
Sperati quick-snapped a shot that surprised Broncos keeper Pat Deroche. After collecting a nice ball over the top from Nolan Pellitier, Sperati without hesitation sent a bending left-footer on frame with Deroche off his line. But the shot went just wide of the post at 14 minutes.
Steib kept his starters in the match for the first 25 minutes, and as a unit, they were playing with confidence. The hosts took the lead for good after Danny Jaderholm initiated the Hoots goal by connecting with Kendall Stork along the near touchline.
The freshman sent a crossfield serve into the center of the box, where Hoots, at the tail end of his run, finished past a diving Billy Larsen, who had no chance to stop the close-range shot.
"I just kept (going) on my run, got inside my man, and Kendall gave me a great ball," said Hoots.
Ethan Claes and Connor Hennelly, who was stopped cold by Larsen at the quarter hour, didn't let up at midfield for Steib. They won a high percentage of tackles and distributed to their teammates, allowing the Broncos to keep the pressure on their opponents.
"We've played three tough matches this week and we asked a lot of Ethan and Connor tonight, and they really came through for us," said Steib.
The first half ended brightly for the Broncos -- but the shine started to fade after intermission.
The Broncos conceded too many dead-ball opportunities against a club which threw the 6-foot-5 Swanson and 6-4 Justin Stanko into the mix. Each time Gostynski served a ball into the box, Broncos fans held their breath in hopes that the Stars' big men didn't redirect a ball into the net.
Willson pushed LeGare forward from his defensive midfield spot, and Stanko from the back into LeGare's position, but the closest the Stars got was a half volley from Stanko off a Gostynski corner in the 76th minute.
"I am proud of the way the guys fought tonight, and for their ability to play at a pretty good level against all three of our opponents this week -- especially tonight and St. Charles North," said Steib.