Barrington beat division rival Palatine at its own game Monday night, and in doing so, captured 3 important points to climb atop the Mid-Suburban West boys soccer standings.
Giles Phillips' header off a superb corner from Connor Hennelly was all the Broncos needed to secure a 1-0 victory as they turned away a spirited late challenge from the Pirates on Monday at Barrington Community Stadium.
"I have the utmost respect for (Palatine coach) Willie (Filian) and (assistant coach) Charlie Gries and how year after year they are the most dangerous team when it comes to set-piece and dead-ball opportunities," said Barrington coach Scott Steib, "so to be able to score one against them and have it be the game-winner is just the best thing we could have done tonight."
The timing couldn't have been better for Barrington -- while the reverse was true for Palatine.
"This is a big week for us," said Filian. "We start out with a key divisional opponent tonight, then go back-to-back against Elk Grove (on Tuesday), then Fremd on Wednesday before playing three games this coming weekend at the Prairie Ridge tournament. So everyone associated with this team knew how important it was for begin this week with a good result."
Both clubs have been struggling to find the back of the net of late, and with the presence of two air-tight defensive units, the chances for fans to see a high-scoring match were slim on this first chilly night of the fall season.
While earning plenty of possession time in the first period, the hosts were still creating little in the way of genuine scoring opportunities, with most coming from deep throws and a handful of long balls sent out of the back by Phillips. In the second half, he drove three or four well-aimed long-range serves.
"We work very hard on created chances off of dead balls, and defending them as well," said Palatine senior defender Brennan Harding, "but tonight we did not do as well as Barrington did, and it came back and cost us."
Along with his backline mates Kevin Burke, Evan Braun and Kyle Clancy, Harding and the Pirates limited the Broncos (7-1-1, 2-0-0-6 points) to just a few good looks on frame against keeper Kyle Leber.
Most of the play in the first half was between the 18's, but things opened up a bit after the break, with the Pirates (4-1-1, 1-1-1, 3 points) having the best chance in the 59th minute as Sergio Hernandez steered his left-footer over the bar from 15 yards.
Consecutive corners, and a nice run and shot at Leber from Wesley Collins helped keep the Pirates under pressure near the hour mark, before Hennelly's bending corner from the far flag found Phillips. His met the serve with a towering leap and headed his shot past a diving Leber.
"Those of us who were on the team last year had a little revenge on our minds after (Palatine) beat us to win the division, so it felt to get that one back and to get 3 points to put us ahead in the division," said Hennelly.
Filian pushed Clancy forward as an attacking midfielder, and the all-area defender nearly made his coach look like a genius when his 35-yard blast just missed wide.
Griffin Claes had a chance to get Barrington out in front by 2 with a close-range shot in the 77th minute, but the shot missed.
Despite the extra numbers Palatine moved forward, Barrington defenders Tyler Anderson, Jack Harrington, Jason Frenk and Phillips held firm to ensure the victory and a shutout for keeper Pat Deroche.
The Broncos travel to MSL East leader Wheeling on Tuesday.