With Barrington and Buffalo Grove near the top of the Mid-Suburban League boys soccer standings, each knew there was plenty at stake when two of the best in the conference came together Tuesday night.
Connor Hennelly's second-half double was enough to earn the visiting Broncos (8-2-0, 4-1-0, 12 points) a hard-fought 2-0 victory to secure 3 vital points in an entertaining encounter with the Bison (8-3-0, 3-2-0-9 points) on Senior Night at Grant Blaney Stadium.
Hennelly's goal five minutes into the second half put the visitors up for good. With the momentum already fully with the Broncos, the junior produced an insurance strike in the 59th minute to send BG to its second shutout in its last three league contests.
"All week we've been talking about how dangerous an attacking team (Buffalo Grove) is, and especially Irving (Eloiza)," said Broncos senior Craig Zahour. "But we were able to withstand a first half where they dominated, to come back and steal 3 big points in a huge game for both teams.
"I was relieved when I saw that ball go into the back of the net, and the second one was just big for all of us," said Hennelly.
Barrington somehow weathered a massive attacking storm from the potent Bison. The hosts were brimming with confidence with every touch as they played through Eloiza who helped BG stay in the Broncos' end with effective counter-attacking, and quick, decisive passes which provided one anxious moment after another for Barrington.
"The pace which Buffalo Grove brought in that first half was way up there, but our hope was to try to neutralize them as much as we could and hope they wouldn't be able to continue playing with that much energy in the second half," said Barrington coach Scott Steib.
Eloiza put Irving Balboa through at seven minutes, but alert Broncos keeper Pat Deroche reacted well in his challenge off the line.
Balboa looked to be on target when he drove a well-aimed shot from the right side toward an opening at the back post, but, unfortunately for Balboa and the Bison, his shot found the far stick. Aldo Figueroa was on hand to send his putback on frame, but by then Deroche was there to rescue the Broncos again.
The Bison continued to get forward at will, turning the match into a mostly one-way affair. Except for a nicely run build-up by the Broncos resulting in Jack Hoots going wide with his attempt, and a well-driven cross from Zahour that nearly found freshman Kendall Stork at the back post, the first 40 minutes belonged to the Bison.
"We created a lot of chances and opportunities, but we weren't sharp enough to put any of them in," said Eloiza. "Barrington got the first goal, then played good, smart, physical soccer, the way the game is supposed to be played, and we just didn't."
The second period was a different story than the first, beginning with the first goal. Hennelly finished with a superb one-timer after Ethan Claes got things started with a corner and Zach Rowe kept the ball alive inside the box.
The Bison might have been back on level six minutes later when Daniel Ramirez sent a quality ball over the top to Demo Drakoulis, but Deroche was quick to respond in yet another nice challenge off his line.
The match was nearly an hour old when the Broncos doubled their advantage.
After Sean Kim skimmed the bar just moments after the freshman was brought on, Hennelly flashed across the box to redirect his shot past Bison keeper Anthony Pawlicki. He had little chance to stop the close-range shot after Stork and Danny Jaderhold orchestrated the opportunity for their teammate.
The final quarter hour of regulation was so frantic at times. The center official booked three players for various levels of misbehavior.
The Broncos kept fresh legs up top as Steib went to just one forward while dropping extra numbers back in order to crowd the middle in an effort to slow the high-powered Bison attack.
"This was a good opportunity for us tonight," said BG coach Rick Carlson, "but after a very good first half, we just didn't match the pace and energy in the second half. And they came at us, put a couple into the back of the net, and played a very smart, and physical half of soccer to get the win."
Schaumburg 3, Elk Grove 2 (OT): Saxons senior Kacper Wasilewski assisted on one of his team's two first-period goals, then came up with the game-winner in overtime at Schaumburg.
Alan Santana scored an unassisted goal for the Saxons and provided the helper on Wasilewski's goal. Freshman Jesse Lopez scored in the first period for the Saxons.
John Arzeta and Conor Murphy had the goals for Elk Grove.
Maine West 2, Glenbrook North 1: Nelson Herrera had both goals, the first on a free kick, as the host Warriors picked up a Central Suburban North victory.
Rolling Meadows 2, Hoffman Estates 2: Jorge Sanchez and Jorge Bravo each had a goal and an assist in the first half for the host Hawks. David Zarate scored in the first half for Rolling Meadows, and Mike D'Acquisto got the equalizer in the second half for the Mustangs before a pair of scoreless OT sessions.
Conant 3, Wheeling 2 (OT): Conant scored on Giovanny Rocha's penalty kick with 26 seconds left in regulation to send the game to OT.
Curtis King also scored in the second half for the Cougars while teammate Chase Hermanson had the match winner in OT.
PatrykOpenchowski handled the goal for Conant while Javier Ocampo made 5 saves for Wheeling.
Frankie Estrada and Luis Herrera each netted goals for Wheeling in the second half. Jose Garcia had both assists.
Fremd 4, Prospect 1: Goalkeeper Steven Soltyskiewicz had 1 save for Fremd which scored 3 goals in the second half from Lucas Choelewa, Michael Eschbach and Jon Magnusson.
Joe Tuczak scored the goal for Prospect.
St. Viator 2, Carmel 1: Jackson Owens and Nick Winter scored second-half goals to lift visiting St. Viator to the ESCC win.
Lions keeper Mike McGrath made 3 saves.